Welcome back! Here is the other part of the chapter! If you haven't read Part 1 yet, you will probably be lost...

Beta Reader: RyuujiVantek


The Goddess of the Hearth made her way toward Southwest Main to reach the home of Ganesha Familia. The sun had nearly set when she left the rundown church. With what little light was left, she decided to cut out some of her travel time by slipping into the crowds in the Free Marketplace between West and Southwest Main Streets. It was the time of day when dungeon divers began trickling out of the dungeon, and fresh ingredients from their latest haul filled the stalls and shops that lined the designated square. The late afternoon rush could get rather hectic.

Sometimes, Hestia got swept away in the waves of shoppers due to her small stature, but her fiery nature tended to get people to move. The respect for Deities at least counted for something.

She emerged onto the nearly deserted Southwest Main, save for a few Adventurers headed home. When she turned toward the city wall, a mature voice excitedly called out to her, "If it isn't little Hestia! It has been some time!"

Her dark hair whipped around as she spun about on her heels to see a taller woman in a crème-colored dress with dark trim. Her orange eyes framed by hair the color of honey shone brilliantly in the setting sun. Hestia was nearly blinded by the glare reflected off the large, wheat-shaped brooch set into the fabric on her hip. Despite the bleached spot in her vision, Hestia didn't need to think too hard about the person's identity.

"It truly has, Demeter," she nodded with a smile, trying to look anywhere else. "You're headed to Ganesha's, I take it?"

"Yes, I am," the Goddess of the Harvest affirmed happily. With a tilt of the head, she asked, "Care to walk with me?"

Having no reason to turn her down, Hestia agreed. The two buxom goddesses strolled down Southwest Main, sharing pleasantries and drawing gazes ogling their impressive figures. In the face of their vulgar murmurings, the goddesses ignored them.

"So, I heard you finally have a Familia now! What is your Child like?"

Hestia levelled a glare at Demeter. The knowing smile the Harvest Goddess wore rubbed her the wrong way. Demeter was notorious for stealing unsuspecting males from other Familias. Despite the maturity she exuded, her favorite prey was young boys. She said they tasted better… Whatever that meant.

Never breaking eye contact, she answered, "Bell-kun is a sweet, innocent boy. He may not be strong, but he works really hard—

"Ah! Another Child ripe for the picking!" Demeter's face flushed red. Her fingers caressed her own cheeks and her eyes twinkled lasciviously. Hestia managed to catch her emphasis on the word "child."

"I sense a bountiful harvest in my future!"

"Don't you go anywhere near my Bell-kun!" she stamped her feet at her taller counterpart.

"My…" Demeter peered down at her. "My, my!"

"What?" Hestia's expression soured.

"My little Hestia," Demeter drew uncomfortably close. "Have you 'crossed the line' with your Child?!"

"Wha-?!" the Goddess of the Hearth blushed beat red. Her mouth flapped open and shut like a fish.

Before she could respond, Demeter's mouth curled into a thin smile, and her eyes narrowed suspiciously. "You were one of the few virgin goddesses left. Welcome to womanhood!"

Demeter slapped Hestia's back with a heavy hand, hooting and hollering with tears of joy forming in the corners of her eyes. The raven-haired goddess gnawed on one of the knuckles of her clenched fist in frustration, letting out a cute grumble of anger.

"Bell-kun is a good boy," chanted Hestia, as if reassuring herself. "He is a pure boy, one who would never fall for the womanly wiles of someone like you."

"Fufufu," Demeter giggled mischievously. "I wouldn't be so sure. I have captured many boys with these."

Demeter hefted her assets with her hands, deforming them and threatening to pop them out of her dress. It was a wholly indecent act, punctuated by a farmer dropping a basket of cabbages with drool flowing down his chin at the sight of the lewd goddess' display.

With a pout, Hestia turned and marched down the street, "I have no idea why I'm still friends with you."

Ignoring the pattering of sandaled feet and shouts of, "Please! Wait for me!" Hestia stomped off to the banquet.

"As tasteless as always…" Demeter mused as she leered up at the façade of Ganesha Familia's Headquarters.

Despite Hestia's aggravation with her "friend," she couldn't help but agree. The two goddesses watched as other Deities filed into the venue. Whether they had noticed or not, people were walking into a giant statue of Ganesha reaching to the heavens. What was worse, they were all walking through the space created by his spread legs. They were essentially entering the building through Ganesha's groin.

"I wonder how much money he spent on this… thing?" the honey-haired goddess glanced down at her shorter counterpart with a grimace.

"Well, he has been known to splurge now and again," replied Hestia, sighing deeply.

Resigning themselves, the two women headed into the building. They were swiftly greeted by the members of Ganesha Familia. The males wore butler suits with white shirts, black vests, and bowties. The females wore black and white maid dresses, but not those niche, frilly things sold in specialty shops. Everyone appeared prim and proper, which was a welcome sight for a beast-taming Familia.

Hestia's exasperated sighs turned to those of relief when she saw the inside of the Headquarters. In spite of the building's façade, the inside was lavish and well kept. Crystal chandeliers adorned the ceilings of every room, and intricate carpets were spread over polished marble floors. The furniture was also of artisanal craftsmanship; the desks and tables were carved out of rich mahogany and the sofas made of expensive, fine fabrics. Truly, Ganesha Familia had incredible taste, almost bordering on tacky.

The two goddesses were announced to the crowd who had already assembled, but no one even turned their head. Neither of them cared, though. If they were half as vain as some of the Deities worth their weight in salt, they would surely have thrown a tantrum. Instead, they slipped through the disinterested masses.

Demeter patted Hestia on the shoulder, as if lovingly bidding farewell, "I have a prior engagement, little Hestia. I will see you later!"

"Eh? Sure…" she muttered impartially when her eyes met with one of the reasons she even came to the banquet. Like a sneak-thief, she slunk through the forest of legs and waists to the object of her desire.

The food table…

Her eyes lit up like stars and her tooth baring grin threatened to permanently stretch her face. Pulling take-home containers seemingly from nowhere, she began shoveling different dishes into them like a mad shopper at a clearance sale. This was one of her few chances to eat high end food, so she was going to capitalize on the situation. Sharing the moment with Bell would have been even better. As long as the food kept, she would wow him with an impressive spread.

Thick cuts of lean meat, buns, dumplings, three different rice dishes, Hestia slid the contents of each plate into the container, leaving nothing but empty place settings behind. Some members of Ganesha Familia watched in dumbstruck awe as food disappeared faster than they could replenish it. Whatever didn't end up in Hestia's take-home "pit" somehow landed in her mouth. The taste seemed to only drive her further into a hysterical grab for future meals.

A deep, womanly voice piped up from behind the crouched visage of Hestia, "Even though I just heard your name get called out, I knew right where to find you," her sentence was punctuated with an amused huff.

A wave passed through Hestia's black twintails like a startled cat caught unawares. The hearth goddess slowly turned toward her unexpected companion. The fire-haired woman barely stifled her laugh at the sight; Hestia crouched on the floor with a bin full of food and two half-eaten meat buns in each hand. She couldn't help but think she looked like a little chipmunk that managed to successfully invade a restaurant.

When her identity registered in her mind, Hestia hastily swallowed all of the food stored in her overstuffed cheeks. She shot to her feet in an instant with a brilliant smile, "Hephaestus!"

The crimson-haired woman wore a similarly crimson dress that fell all the way to the floor. It was an impressive "off-the-shoulder" number complete with full length gloves that could turn heads at the finest of banquets. On her right shoulder sat an intricately sewn crimson rose that was dark enough to stand out against her fiery hair. Her bangs were cut longer than normal, so as to cover the right side of her face; even though she wore a leather eyepatch, she still insisted on covering it. The rest of her magma-like hair flowed down to the small of her back, tracing the delicate, yet chiseled curves on the Goddess of the Forge.

Hephaestus was a dear friend to Hestia, and she looked after the tiny goddess when she came to Gekai. For many years, Hestia was unable to start her own Familia, ultimately leeching off of Hephaestus Familia. The Goddess of the Hearth, though a welcoming spirit and an attractive creature, did nothing but lock herself away and read books. Eventually, Hephaestus grew fed up with Hestia's laziness and kicked her out; though, not without giving her a place to stay.

"How is that old church treating you and your Child?" inquired the singular red-eyed woman with genuine interest. "It hasn't fallen on your heads yet, I assume?"

"It's holding up quite well for what it is!" Hestia bounced on her heels, truly happy to see one of her dearest friends. "I could never thank you enough for finding that room for me! My Child and I are quite comfortable, though the quarters can be tight at times."

"It can't be helped," Hephaestus shrugged. "What with how much I paid for it, you're lucky the whole building wasn't condemned right then and there."

The two goddesses exchanged a few pleasantries before moving onto the matters of their Familias. As expected of Hephaestus, her Familia remained the massive powerhouse it had always been since she descended from Tenkai. As the Goddess of Smithing, Hephaestus treasured people who prided themselves as metallurgists. Her Children did nothing but hone their craft and, eventually, they became the most prized weapons and armors that those of the mortal plane could offer. Her Familia operated out of dozens of shops littered throughout Orario, including several floors within the Tower of Babel itself; prime real estate if ever there was any.

"And what of your Child? What is the man who bagged our Hestia like?"

"There was no bagging!" Hestia glowered, but perked up as soon as the image of Bell's face rose into her mind. "He is a sweet young man with a lot of potential. He is somewhat on the weak side right now, but he is working very hard to become a great Adventurer. Just watching him push his limits makes me want to do the same."

Hephaestus' one eye closed. Her cherry lips formed a thin smile as she heard her friend gush over her Familia. There was nothing more satisfying for a Deity than learning of the growth of the Children, even if they were in different Familias.

"Which is why…"

Her one eye shot open in surprise. She knew that tone. Hestia was gearing up for something, and Hephaestus wasn't sure if she wanted to be present for it.

"I need to ask you for a favor!" the twintailed goddess bowed lowly, her hair sweeping along the pristine floor.

The redhead blinked in confusion. It took a few moments before she realized what was happening. She brought her hand to her face as if to wipe beads of sweat from her brow. The sigh that ripped through her lungs came from a deep, dark place. There was a crevasse inside of the forge goddess caused by her close friend bowing before her; a pit caused by kindness that went without reciprocation.

"Another favor, Hestia?" the goddess shook her head in disdain. "I told you already: You are cut off. No more money. No more favors. I don't particularly enjoy it when you take advantage of our friendship."

"That's not it!" Hestia straightened with such speed that her back could have snapped. "Since Bell-kun is trying his hardest, I feel that I should do the same. I am not asking you to give me a freebie like you were kind enough to do in the past. I just want to give my Child a fighting chance."

"What would that even entail? You don't have any money to pay me back," the redhead's single eye twitched, the irritation slowly getting to her. "I don't know how far you wish to stretch this relationship of ours, but at some point, it's going to give way, and I will not stand for it."

"I will pay everything back, no matter how long it takes! Please! I will do anything!"

To Hephaestus' surprise, Hestia did a little hop into the air. Her only eye widened to its limit when she saw the little goddess fall to the ground, slamming her head into the carpet, resting her forehead on the backs of her hands. A few other Deities looked on curiously, but ignored her in the end.

With a light blush of embarrassment high on her cheeks, the redhead peered down at her friend, "What are you doing?"

"It's a dogeza! Takemikazuchi taught it to me," she kept her head plastered to the floor as she spoke. "He said it was used for apologies and asking for favors, even though a person understands that they don't deserve it."

The Smithing Goddess' brow rose. Did she really have to go that far? Similar thoughts appeared in her mind, but she remained unmoved. She knew she had to stand firm. She made a decision, and needed to stick by it.

"No means no, Hestia."




"I always found it quite interesting that little Hestia is the smallest one here, yet she has the loudest voice."


The prostrating goddess heard Hephaestus' change in demeanor, and raised her head to see the approach of a vixen in silver. With several men in tow, the Goddess of Beauty glided toward the feuding Deities. Her silver dress was plain, but such a creature required no adornment to appear breathtaking. The cloth was so thin and tight, it looked to be painted on, but it neither strained nor gave way; it was a perfect fit for a perfect body. Her silver hair, despite having a similar color, had such an alluring glossiness that it stood out all on its own.

Hestia blinked, ignoring the red welt that was rising on her forehead, "Oh, hello Freya."

"Is that the only greeting I get from an old friend?" her sweet voice came forth as light as a breath. Around her, the men and women alike nearly melted as soon as the sound hit their ears. "Begging Hephaestus for help again, I see. Even though you finally get the Familia you've always wanted, you still can't escape old habits, can you?"

Biting back a sneer, Hestia harrumphed with indignation, "Well, I certainly can't leave it all up to my Child! He supports me, so I need to support him in my own way!"

"A Child like that is wasted on you," Freya's finger traced her perfectly proportioned lips. "If you are willing to give him up, I will give you whatever support you want."

Hestia couldn't help but notice Freya's sudden interest in her Bell-kun. Just the thought of a harlot like she taking her Child away filled her with anger and sadness. "I will never give up Bell-kun!"

Freya giggled playfully, causing several others to swoon. "It was worth a shot. Hold onto him dearly. You never know what may happen."

Hestia's cheeks puffed up in a cute pout. She and Freya knew each other when they were still in Tenkai, but they never really got along. There was never a real reason other than she rubbed Hestia the wrong way. Just knowing that Freya had her eyes on her Child made the Goddess of the Hearth very nervous. Freya had quite the track record for stealing talented Children; not even Demeter could hold a candle to her. After all, Freya's Familia was the largest for a reason; whatever she set her eyes on, she never stopped until she got it.

Before Hestia could tell her off, a voice broke through over the rumbling din of conversations.


"Oh no…" Hestia's shoulders drooped when she recognized to whom the voice belonged.

Another redhead zipped down the staircase before the staff could announce her arrival. Her shoulder-length, normally unkempt, red hair was tied up in an elaborate bun, and finished with a black flower hairclip. Her black, pinstriped dress hugged her body closely; not that it could be any looser. Since her choice of garment was a shoulder-less piece, the only way to preserve her modesty was the make it tight; the flatness of her chest didn't make it any easier for the dress to stay up. The skirt billowed out at her waist to form a lovely curtain of dark fabric. A black bow wrapped just below her navel and brought the skirt and bodice together.

To most onlookers, the arrival of this beauty would be a welcome change, but for Hestia, it was one of the worst things that could have happened. For some odd reason, the Goddess of the Hearth disliked the Trickster Goddess Loki. Whether she couldn't handle her personality, or her pranks, or even her insults, she would have seen Loki as her rival. It's all because of Wallen-whatsit that my Bell-kun is so obsessed!

Loki skidded to a halt in front of the two taller goddesses and exchanged greetings. Hestia glared up from her kneeling position, the redness of her cheeks nearly matching the forming blotch on her forehead. It only took Loki a moment to catch sight of her. Immediately, an evil grin stretched across her face. Her eyes narrowed to slits, as they usually did before she was about to rip Hestia a new one.

"Well, well, if it isn't Itty Bitty," Hestia could feel the anger building with each word already. "If you get any shorter, you might disappear!"

The short jokes were par for the course. Hestia was used to those.

"Even if you disappeared, the only thing left of you would be those tits of yours," Loki bent down to give Hestia's chest a poke.

Not having noticed that her position gave Hestia the perfect view down Loki's dress, the short goddess sputtered out a laugh, "It looks like your tits were the first to go!"

"Here we go…" Hephaestus clapped her hand to her forehead. She had seen this exchange so many times, she didn't even need to hear it; the arguments were always the same anyway.

"Come at me, Boob Monster!"

"Maybe I can gift some of my bust to you, Petanko-chan!"

An epic battle ensued. Loki and Hestia grabbed each other's cheeks and pulled as hard as they could, stretching their faces to impossible lengths. Suddenly, money was flying in every direction.

"One thousand on Loki!"

"Two thousand on Hestia!"

"This is the reason I go to these things!"

"You need a new hobby…"

Hephaestus and Freya watched as the two "duked" it out in the middle of the banquet. The Goddess of Smithing shook her head. It may have been a normal occurrence for the two goddesses, but did they have to fight like this every time? It didn't even take that long to start this time around.

The Goddess of Beauty, on the other hand, smiled joyfully, as if she was glad that two of her friends were playing together like usual.

"You two really do get along well."


With a turn and a quip, the two battling goddesses snapped at Freya's innocent observation, only to end up glaring at each other. The women growled like animals, neither giving any ground. Their cheeks were starting to swell and engorge with blood. With each pinch and squeeze, the other would attack with renewed strength. For several minutes, they tugged and smashed each other's faces.

Trumpets blared throughout the room, suddenly jarring everyone out of the clamor caused by the impromptu cat fight. Even the battling goddesses whirled about, still clutching each other's cheeks with dumbfounded expressions. The noise came from the far side of the ballroom. Several trumpeters encircled a throne-like seat surrounded by red velvet runners and a gold trim curtain covering the wall. Many Deities looked on with genuine interest, while others peered around with tilted heads, question marks rising throughout the entire venue.

Hephaestus and Freya were no different. The two glanced at each other, trying to discern whether the other knew anything. After they received similar looks, their heads turned in unplanned synchrony back to the man in the red elephant mask standing in front of his "throne." Was there to be an announcement?

He raised his arms into the air, calling for silence. Slowly, the murmuring died away as curiosity welled up in the engrossed Deities. Everyone seemed to have the same thought. Here comes another grandiose speech from the glory hog, Ganesha.

"Welcome, one and all! I am Ganesha!" his booming voice filled the room with ease. "It is my pleasure to have all of you here tonight, to christen this brand new humble abode of our Familia!"


"Did he just say humble?"

"The guy made us walk through his crotch…"

Whispers passed through the crowd as people wondered just how someone who spent gods-knew-how-much on this needlessly extravagant Headquarters could possibly call it humble. The guy may have been trying to show off, but this was just too much…

Even though he definitely heard the grumblings of his peers, the God of Obstacles continued, "I am glad to see so many of us gathered here on this night!"

"As loud as ever, I see," Freya mumbled. "He could give Hestia a run for her money."

"I'mn no' thad bad," Hestia slurred as she rubbed her swollen cheeks.

Ganesha seemed to relish the attention, even though there was absolutely nothing positive about it. That was something only Ganesha could handle, and turn it into fuel for his own eccentricity. Being a Deity who can cause both positive and negative effects, he was capable of using both sides to his advantage… probably. Either that, or, as many of the other Deities would be so inclined to believe, he was out of his mind.

Ganesha rambled on for what seemed like twenty minutes. He took the time to personally thank several of his closest friends for their continued support. Then, he decided to update everyone on the upcoming festival known as "Monsterphilia." He detailed which monsters they were planning to capture for the show, and even took suggestions from his audience for any new additions to the lineup. All in all, he gave quite the productive speech.

That was until…

"And finally, this Ganesha has come into contact with an old acquaintance from Tenkai. He has taken his sweet time gathering himself and moving forward with his plans to join us here in Gekai," the elephant Deity seemed to wax poetic for a moment. His characteristic loudness all but disappeared. "It is my pleasure to say that he has finally made the effort to descend into this plane of existence."

The mutterings of the crowd increased significantly. There were still thousands of Deities that hadn't crossed over from Tenkai. Just knowing that one of their own decided to take the plunge and finally enter the game was an exciting notion for the gods and goddesses. They all welcomed decent competition. If this new Deity could offer some form of beneficial opposition, it would allow everyone else to grow further. After all, this game was being played on a grand scale. Unless some new cogs were tossed into the machine, progress would stagnate.

"Fresh meat, eh?"

"It's a late start, but I hope they can make this more fun."

"I hope he's cute…"

Everyone seemed to have a similar reaction to the news, save for two goddesses in the center of the room. Loki stood silently, her eyes cracked open as she rubbed her reddened face. It had been a concern of hers for some time. Ever since her Aizu-tan brought the existence of an unregistered Deity to her attention, she was on the lookout for any news of unknown gods.

When she first heard the report from Aiz, she didn't quite believe her words. The dungeon had the ability to play tricks on the mind, make people see things, even set traps and lure them into false senses of security. The dungeon was a devious "creature," one that made sport of unwary Adventurers. The Sword Princess, however, was not someone with whom to be trifled. She knew the dungeon and understood of what it was capable. To let it pull one over on her just because she lacked rest was so unlike the gold-haired Adventurer that Loki was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt.

Her gut instinct when it came to her prized Child paid off in the end. When the rumors started flying, and having heard from other Deities that their Children were bumping into a black armored monster of a man in the dungeon, she had no choice but to believe Aiz. The Trickster Goddess was forced to accept her story about the kidnapped Monster Rex. Despite the research she and her Child did in the following weeks, they still turned up nothing.

He did nothing. He said nothing. He just cleared floors, letting other Adventurers pass when they happened upon him. It wasn't until Aiz met him after an incident in the dungeon that they finally got a bit more information; that being the name of his Deity.

Freya's face did not change. Her light smile and crinkled eyes did not betray a single emotion. She knew nothing of the Deity Ganesha was mentioning. Normally, she'd have asked Ottar to investigate, but he was off on another assignment, the results of which she awaited with bated breath. She had to keep up appearances, after all. She never felt the need to associate with those of her kind. As one of the more prominent Deities, her peers had expectations of her. She had an image to uphold. However, that didn't mean she had to enjoy it.

She twirled a glass of champaign in one hand, while her other hand fiddled with a lock of her hair. This was just another player in a boring game, she thought. She already had most of the promising talent the Children had to offer, save for a select few, though they would be hers in time. She let out a sweet sigh of boredom.

"So, without further ado, Ganesha proudly welcomes a good friend," the masked god motioned to his servants with his arms. At his signal, his servants opened the double doors. "The God of Death, Ainz Ooal Gown!"

When the figure entered, the entire room went cold. Light seemed to dim as the massive, seven-foot-tall man glided to the front of the chamber. He had long black-and-purple-hemmed robes that were accented with gold designs. His shoulders were adorned with massive white horns set with giant, ruby-red crystals. In his gauntleted hand, he held a golden staff of seven, entwined snakes grasping seven colored orbs in their mouths. The style was that of mangled gold, twisting and wrapping into a grotesque handle encrusted with deep, blue sapphires. The hollow sounds of the metal hitting carpeted stone was like an explosive din in the silent room.

There was just one misunderstanding the Deities had regarding this man; he wasn't a man at all.

Because of his broad hood, the only part of his head that was visible was his face. It was a face that belonged on a completely rotted corpse. A polished, bleached-white skull reflected the light from the ornate chandeliers. Two black, empty sockets were set beneath a strong brow curved into a permanent scowl. Black streaks that seemed to be gouge marks surrounded his eyes, as if someone had cut them out with a blade. His teeth were completely exposed, as he had no flesh. He also had a squared jaw that appeared almost jagged in places. Two red lights shone brightly through the darkness created by his eye sockets, sending a shiver through the crowd.

The front of his robe was open, revealing a wide ribcage that jutted out of his clothing. Sitting where his organs should have been, a large red orb glistened and thrummed; it didn't pulse like a heart, but it was quite obvious that it was the source of his life. He settled in front of the audience, next to Ganesha.

To make matters worse, he didn't come alone. Filing in behind him, three individuals confidently sauntered into the room.

The first was a tall woman in a purple dress with a white shawl accented with purple frills wrapped around her shoulders. Underneath, her dress was corset-like and open on the sides. The white, shell-shaped cloth did its best to hold back the woman's rather impressive assets; any lady present who didn't match up chewed on their lips in envy. Her neck and wrists were adorned with expensive looking jewelry and her hips were swaddled by layers of raven feathers sewn into the dress. She was gorgeous, but the eyes of those ogling a lovely woman always traveled up to her head. Two curved horns protruded from her temples. The points settled over her brow, making her alluring yellow eyes pop.

Was she even human?

As that thought passed through the minds of all of the Deities present, the next person brought everyone's eyes further toward the ground. She was short; almost half as tall as the first woman. She may have looked like a child, but the air of maturity she exuded was common in ancient creatures, and could match even that of the surrounding gods and goddesses. Her skin was paler than white, and seemed to pour like milk out of her mauve and magenta dress. The bodice was tightfitting, though her chest seemed too large for her small stature; similar to a certain Goddess of the Hearth. The layered, Victorian style skirt flared out like a bell, completely hiding her short, graceful steps. Her silver hair was tied back in a long ponytail that fell almost to the floor. She wore a purple headpiece that matched her dress with a striped bow. Grasped in her hands was a parasol made of the same material. Aside from her dress, the only color present in her form were her blood red eyes that pierced everyone like a predator. Her ghostly lips struggled to hold back a lengthy pair of teeth; were they fangs?

Was she even human?

Finally, the last person in the odd procession was the only other male. He was tall and lithe with spiked, black hair. His eyes were obscured by thick glasses that sat atop his long nose. His ears were pointed like an elf's, pierced by all kinds of metallic trinkets. His wide mouth was curled into a devilish grin, revealing rows of sharpened teeth. His orange, pinstriped suit complete with white collared shirt, red tie, and pocket square portrayed the man as a high standing businessman. What confused everyone was the segmented tail that fell from his lower back. With each step, it swept from side-to-side like a living creature. Its spiked end came dangerously close to spearing some of the servants who stood too near the group.

He definitely wasn't human…

The four newcomers stood in a line, presenting themselves to the gathering. The reigning silence only made the whispers seem louder.

"Fresh meat? There's no meat on that thing."

"That horned woman's chest is out of this world."

"I'm leaning toward the little one."


"That man is a bit scary…"

Meanwhile, Loki's mind was racing. Her eyes were fully open and regarding the people standing at the front of the room. Her gaze was nowhere near as good as Freya's. While the Arbiter of Souls was capable of seeing a Child's level of power at a passing glance, Loki could only feel the power that they exuded. Each newcomer that entered exhibited a pressure that was incredibly overwhelming to the senses, but she could tell nothing else, as if she was being blocked from doing so. So Aiz was right. A new god had descended, and he had brought monsters with him.

"Hey, Freya," Loki turned toward the sliver-haired beauty. "Can your eyes see anything— Freya?"

The Goddess of Beauty was nowhere to be found.

The eyes on me sent a shudder through my bones. It was a moment of weakness on my part, though who wouldn't feel anxious? There were Deities from several different religious denominations in this very room. At the moment, they were considered enemies, and they could utterly destroy us if they chose to do so. However, I also felt quite confident in my situation. They would not use their abilities unless they decided to beforehand with their peers, otherwise they would be forcibly returned to Tenkai.

There was only one goddess I knew of that had learned of the name "Ainz Ooal Gown," and she had not made a move. Perhaps she was being cautious? It made sense. She knew next to nothing about me. Acting too soon could have been detrimental not only to herself, but also to the members of her Familia. If she cared at all for them, she would do nothing until she knew more. That was partially what made this introduction possible. Everyone would ask questions, but the only advice they would receive was to not mess with Ainz Ooal Gown Familia.

Especially if such advice came from the trusted source known as Loki.

She ran a powerful Familia, and she herself had an impressive amount of clout. Should she have talked, people would have listened. Now that I was introduced, she would have to hold her tongue. It was the only way to remove that particular advantage. It was just one less thing she could hold over our heads.

I suppose I should have thanked the Floor Guardians for their little mishap with kidnapping Ganesha. All it did was push our plans forward a bit too soon. The longer Ainz Ooal Gown Familia remained as a dungeon poaching group, the higher the level of danger for us. We weren't completely prepared to move on to the next step, but neither were our enemies. It was for the best that we had struck while the iron was still hot.

I scanned the faces in the crowd. Despite our unexpected entrance, it seemed to me that many of the Deities were not surprised by my appearance. Perhaps there were many eccentric gods with strange forms? Maybe they could choose any form they liked, what with being gods and all. They must have chosen to look like humanoids to avoid scaring the mortals. How considerate of them…

I heard a beep in my mind, indicative of a signal coming through with [MESSAGE], "Was that a sufficient introduction, Ainz-sama?"

Pandora's Actor's voice came through with a hint of eagerness. Not wanting to crush his enthusiasm, I littered him with a bit of praise, "It was most sufficient, Pandora's Actor. You can be proud of what you managed to pull off here tonight, even with the time constraints. Well done."

I ignored the small shudder and pleased yelp that came from the pseudo-Ganesha standing beside me. I was lucky that everyone was focused on me, otherwise they would have noticed the strange sounds coming from the Doppelganger.

Clearing my throat, I raised one of my hands in greeting, "Good evening, my peers. I am the one known as Ainz Ooal Gown, a God of Death."

Naming myself The God of Death might have been considered pretentious, especially since I had no idea which gods existed in this world. If I overstepped myself, I could have made more enemies than rivals. Rivalries were acceptable; we could still trade beneficially with them. Having too many enemies outright could spell disaster for Nazarick.

In the face of blank stares, I continued, "I have been humbled by the reception I received from Ganesha and his impressive Familia. They have given me a chance to meet all of you and establish a Familia of my own.

"My prospective Familia members and I are most grateful to our hosts, as well as all of you for welcoming us to Gekai. Please take care of us!"

It didn't take long to notice a piercing gaze boring into me as I spoke. Even as the words left my mouth, my eyes found the culprit in an instant. In the center of the room, amid the sea of blank expressions, red eyes set into a stern glower beneath a mop of lovely crimson hair done up in an elegant bun glared at me from afar. The woman's sight never tore away from me, even as I moved forward, into the crowd.

As was her description, the woman must have been Loki. According to my own personal experiences with the Sword Princess, my most likely enemy at the moment was the Trickster Goddess. Aiz Wallenstein had been wary of me during our last meeting, and with good reason. She had possibly seen us abduct the Monster Rex. What was worse, I had a bit too much fun with her and told her our guild's name. The chance to spread the name my friends and I shared was too enticing to pass up. I had made a mistake, but that doesn't mean I couldn't capitalize on it.

That was why, despite speaking one on one with the Deities I passed along the way, I still kept Loki in my sights. Some of the gods willingly approached, while others simply turned away. It was no surprise, really. I didn't expect them to accept me straightaway, especially since I looked so different. Most of them were kind enough to shake my hand, though everyone ended up doing so. After all, each time one of the Deities glanced down at my hand and hesitated, Albedo would glare at them with severe intensity. They instantly became more agreeable.

I wore the gauntlets for this very reason. I figured they wouldn't want to touch a completely bony hand, so I decided to make things a bit easier on them. The Guardians were not pleased with that choice, but after taking the time to explain my reasoning, they begrudgingly accepted it. I would use whatever tactic I believed was helpful to Nazarick. This was where my experience as a Salaryman came in…

Keep it simple. Tell them no more than what was necessary. This was a pleasantry. Only meet with the most influential. The promises of the "little men" would be of no benefit to me. Continue forward toward the target. Appeal to their interests, and sell yourself.

The training for my job from when I was still in my human body had never failed me before. I did well enough for myself as a human. I didn't see how these Deities should be any different. The Familias were practically businesses; their members were the employees, and the Deity was the CEO. They all worked together in order to increase productivity and grow into a larger Familia.

A Deity treated their Familia however they liked. Some treated their members like family, others as if they were slaves. Their internal affairs were none of our concern, so there was no need to interfere. When it came to Loki Familia, it appeared that she treated her members as her own. She cared about each individual, especially for the higher ranked Adventurers she had under her thumb. It was an admirable sentiment, one that I understood greatly. The NPC's of Nazarick were my family, so perhaps I could find some camaraderie with the Trickter Goddess.

It wasn't long before I reached the area where the redheaded goddess stood, her eyes still glued to me. She and I finally shared a glance as I walked forward. When I was about to approach her, I noticed a black creature had appeared in front of me.

"Hold it right there, Ainz Ooal Goon!"

My eyes trailed downward, noticing that the "black mass" was actually a stream of long, black hair tied up in twintails. My head reflexively tilted when I took in her visage. She was quite short, barely coming up to my stomach. Ocean-blue eyes glared up at me, though her neck was bent back sharply; it was tough for someone so short to look up at a person who was nearly a meter taller. The angle was so steep, in fact, that the only things about the woman I noticed were her face and the pair of giant breasts hiding the rest of her body.

What god in heaven gave someone so small and thin a rack like that? Well, she was a goddess after all, so maybe she gave them to herself?

I was snapped out of my thoughts when I heard the screeching and gnashing of teeth behind me.

"You insolent woman!" Albedo burst out as she stepped forward, lifting her dress slightly so as not to trip. Her feathers ruffled and shook as her wings started to unfurl from around her waist. "How dare you call Ainz-sama—!"

I raised my hand in front of her to calm her fury. She sputtered slightly, trying desperately to hold back her words. The disgruntled Succubus retreated a step. Her brow knitted into a cute frown. Her yellow eyes dangerously jerked in the short goddess' direction, though she neither seemed to care nor notice. The Deity's expression was twisted into an angry grimace with small tears welling up in the corners of her eyes, but I found it difficult to feel intimidated. The tiny creature was just too adorable.

"Ainz Ooal 'Goon…'" I mulled over the word aloud, then chuckled mirthfully. "Honestly, I've not heard that one. Many have mocked me in the past, but this one is new. I must say, you are quite clever. However, I feel the need to ask why it is that I have seemed to earn your ire? Have I done something to slight you, Miss…?"

I trailed off, leaving a gap for the woman to introduce herself. I had no idea talking with this Lip Bug would be so difficult. The strange voice that came from my mouth almost made me trip over my words. It was a last minute decision to disguise my voice, since Aiz Wallenstein had heard it when I was parading around as Momonga. I'll have to thank Demiurge for the idea, as well as Entoma for lending it to me…

Despite my courtesy, the small woman still appeared miffed. She placed her hands on her hips and stared up at me with an air of defiance. There wasn't a single ounce of fear packed into her tiny frame, causing my interest in her to rise with each passing moment.

With her cheeks puffed in a pout, she pointed at me with an indignant finger, "I am the great Hestia! And it's cheating to gather so many Familia members before you've registered with the Guild! Do you have any idea how long it took me to get just one?!"

My jaw dropped. This was Hestia, the Goddess of the Hearth? This was the eldest daughter of Cronus and Rhea? This was the sister of the three main gods of the Greek Mythology, Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades? This was the receiver of ritualistic sacrifices that were used to keep the flames of Olympus burning at all times? Hestia was meant to be the keeper of the flame, the embodiment of house and home. Humans believed that no form could be decided upon for her, because there was no single way to describe the feelings of belonging that came from relaxing, enjoying, and running one's own home.

And yet, here she stood, a minuscule spitfire that could barely see my face when she stood too close. She was a revered goddess, but nearly forgotten, like opening and closing ceremonies for the day. I slammed my jaw shut, coughing into my hand as if clearing my throat. I was banking on the fact that this world was different to a degree. I couldn't be sure if the lore behind each Deity was similar to that of my world. If Hestia was as important and influential as she was made out to be in the Mythology I studied, she could be a great asset to us in the future.

"I spent years looking for Children who would join my Familia!" the goddess whined, chewing on the fabric of her dinner jacket in frustration. "You're not even here for a week and already have three talented people! Mu~ Mu~ Mu~!"

Then again, perhaps not…

My expressionless face refused to budge, even though I mentally raised an eyebrow in confusion. I decided to placate the irate woman, even though I couldn't find anything wrong with my actions, "My apologies, but I do believe that as long as no one enters the dungeon before registering, I can gather as many members as I wish."

I felt several pairs of eyes turn toward us as many Deities listened in on our little disagreement, if it could be called that. To me, it seemed she was just griping about having too few members, but everyone else could tell that she was needlessly chewing me out. I wasn't sure if the intermittent chuckles were directed at me, or the goddess glaring at me from her low vantage point. Everyone could tell she was being petty.

Of course, all of that disappeared when Albedo's piercing gaze drifted over each of them. Even I could feel the peril spreading through the room with the Succubus as the epicenter. As glad as I was about losing the unwanted attention, Albedo wasn't exactly subtle when it came to her own distaste. Watching the developments, Demiurge could only sigh and shake his head with a chuckle, while Shalltear disinterestedly peered at her manicured nails, just waiting for things to be over.

Bulldozing through the oppressive air, Hestia's pout turned into a glower, but she wasn't the one who answered back with a retort, "That's rich, especially when your Silent Swordsman has been spotted wiping Floors clean down there for weeks. My Aizu-tan has told me some interesting stories about your Children."

Crimson eyes showered me with a torrent of admonition. I turned my head slightly to take in the Trickster Goddess. Her eyes were dangerously angled, regarding me with as much caution as a cornered cat. She had her hand placed on her cocked hip, glaring with such intensity that Hestia shuffled out of the way. I glanced down at her, seeing the pinstriped bodice and black skirt of her dress.

So Loki really was a woman after all… From my knowledge of old Norse Mythology, Loki was known as the Trickster God because he was always causing trouble by making people turn on each other using both perfectly veiled lies and boldfaced truths. Loki was also known to switch genders from male to female and back in order to enact his plans, and could even change species, as he sired the great wolf Fenrir, and even birthed the great steed Sleipnir when masquerading as a mare.

Loki also apparently had a daughter named Hel who oversaw the Underworld, but I had no idea if that held true here.

My eyes zeroed in on her chest. Flat as a board. Perhaps Loki's gender fluidity was the reason for her lack of certain feminine characteristics.

"However, it seems 'Momonga' isn't here today," she emphasized the name with a knowing smirk on her face. Her challenging glare broke away from me and settled on Demiurge. "Though I believe she told me a lot about you as well, Mr. Orange Man."

It seems she had seen us that day.

My subordinate's sneering grin stretched even further as he stepped forward. With a deep bow, he introduced himself, "I am the one known as Demiurge. It is a pleasure to meet you, Lady Loki."

"You know me… I see you've done your research," she sighed, her stare never wavering. "I would very much like to pick your brain about… certain details regarding a report I received from one of my Children."

And she most likely knows everything already…

A chuckle escaped the demon's parted lips as he straightened himself. "It would please me greatly to speak with you at length, though I would require permission from our Supreme Being."

Loki's tongue clucked when she turned back to me. "Do me a favor and let your Child—

She must have noticed my errant gaze, as she crossed her arms over her chest. Her face contorted with embarrassment and flushed a deep shade of red. With uncharacteristic stammering, she shrieked, "D-did you get a good enough l-look?! You're not gonna poke fun too, are ya?!"

The red lights of my eyes dimmed several times as I blinked. I was deep in thought, but I must have been looking at her chest the whole time…


"Er, wait, that's not…" my arms shot up in denial. Now, she was scowling at me with a different kind of wariness.

Uh-oh… The situation was quickly devolving. The last thing I wanted was for everything to spiral out of my control. I could already feel the stares coming from all around. I needed to salvage this.

Clearing my throat again, I tried anything that came to mind, "You see, I was simply captivated by… your charms? Yes! I was enchanted by your lovely figure, and could not help but take in your beautiful form. Please forgive me."

"Where the hell is he even looking? There's nothing there anyway," quipped Hestia, with a satisfied huff.

Everyone seemed to have the same idea, since they all glanced at each other with their brows raised.

"So he likes them flat, eh?"

"You'd think he'd want them with a bit more flesh, since he doesn't have any."

"I like them flat too."

"When did you become this way?"

"You hear that, Albedo?" Shalltear's voice mingled in with the rabble of the surrounding masses. "Ainz-sama has spoken. He likes them… flat."

Silence rushed over the crowd as they all suddenly backed away when a wave of rage surged forth from the Succubus behind me. I looked over my shoulder, expecting a nightmarish terror, only to see a completely composed attendant; at least that's how it seemed at first. Her lips were curled into a welcoming smile, but her eyes were dangerously wide. The woman was a powder keg with a lit fuse, just waiting to explode. The air rippled and shook with each heaving breath she took. No one nearby said a word for fear of setting her off.

Am I sweating? I must be sweating…

However, one person was wholly unaffected by the evil radiating from the horned woman. Loki's neck, cheeks, and ears were so deeply red, one would expect she was overheating. With her hands cupping the sides of her face, she muttered gleefully, "Lovely figure… beautiful form… no one… has ever…"

"Hu… Huhuhuhu~!"

Once it seemed the steam would erupt from her ears, the Trickster Goddess regressed into a bubbling girl, squirming and drooling while giggling to herself. In the face of her blissful babble, Hestia's expression twisted into a grimace of disgust. Shaking her head, she turned back to me. Her eyes suddenly widened as some puzzle pieces finally snapped into place in her mind.

"Hold on! The Silent Swordsman is yours?!" she pointed accusingly, her teeth bared in anger. "My Bell-kun was scared half to death by your Child!"

Another red haired goddess approached, quickly interrupting the tiny goddess' potential tirade. She wore a red dress that matched the only eye of hers that wasn't covered by a black leather eyepatch, much like the color of Loki's eyes. I glanced down at her crimson dress wrapped around her tight, muscular body. Looking at the two goddesses side by side, I would have believed it if they told me they were sisters. There was one distinct difference between them…

This goddess seems to have a bit more feminine charm than the trickster Loki.

"I had heard that the Silent Swordsman uses a pair of black great swords," the unknown woman crossed her arms and looked me up and down. I felt her single eye trace my figure, her vision seemingly burning me with an unseen fire. "Those weapons don't sound like anything that came from my Children. You have your own smith, I take it?"

"Hm?" I attempted to give her a quizzical gaze. It seemed that even without flesh, my face still wanted to show expressions, but I lacked any of the musculature necessary for it. Instead, my angled brow and overall gloomy demeanor exhibited a mood that some may have considered offensive. I need to remember to state my feelings outright... misunderstandings could lead to some serious problems… "I apologize. You seem to have me at a disadvantage. I am Ainz Ooal Gown."

I held my hand toward the woman, at which she peered down at it with an eyebrow raised; or rather, at the gauntlet I wore. With a slight smile, she stated her name, "Hephaestus."

Even as she clasped her hand around mine, my breath caught in my chest; if that was what it could be called for one who didn't breathe. The Goddess of Blacksmiths… In another display of the differences between my world and this one, the Deity known as Hephaestus was female. In Greek Mythology, Hephaestus was the blacksmith of the gods. He created all of the weapons that the gods of Olympus carried, and he was also known as the patron god of artisans and craftsmen.

Hephaestus was exclusively portrayed as male, having been married to Aphrodite and, according to some works, Athena. This world, however, seemed to paint quite a different picture.

"Eh?" the crimson-haired woman uttered as she turned my hand in hers. Staring at the back of my hand, she ran the tips of her fingers along the shimmering iron. "Haven't I seen these somewhere before?"

Ah… It took me a moment to understand her meaning, but once it clicked in my head, it became glaringly obvious that I was in trouble. I wanted to slap myself in the face. In Yggdrasil, many of the items and equipment were named after legendary, divine, and godly objects from both history and mythology. The world of Yggdrasil was a game, a false reality. However, since it was just that, one could say those articles were the real thing, because it was just a game. For all intents and purposes, in that game world, everything was real and aptly named as such.

But when something from that game world was thrust into a real world situation, namely myself, some issues may have arisen.

For example, the gauntlets I wore at this very moment were named Jarngreipr, or the "Iron Grippers." In short, they were Thor's gloves that enhanced the strength of any who wore them.

Gods were real in Yggdrasil, as well as their weaponry and items. The gods are real here as well, so it would be correct to assume that their treasures are real too. That means if any of my artifacts that may have belonged to the gods of these religious denominations are seen by the original owners, there could be a huge misunderstanding…

I needed to come up with something, and fast; before she can figure it out. Come on brain, don't fail me now!

"It can't be," her eye widened. "Do these not belong to Thor? I have only ever seen them from afar, but these are them for certain. How did you get these?"

That was fast… As expected of the discerning eye of the Goddess of Smithing. It was practically impossible to hide the quality of the item, especially when the person you were trying to trick was an expert in the field. Luckily, I knew a surefire way to get out of it.

Deny. Deny deny deny!

"These are not the same as the pair Thor owns," I held the gauntlets up to show her. "True, they are very similar, as they were made in their likeness. Alas, these are nothing compared to the originals."

She glared at me with a half-lidded eye, as if she didn't believe a word I said. She pursed her lips as she glanced down at them again, "Those are some decent replicas. If what you said is true, then I would very much like to meet the smith who made them."

Crap… I could probably create something similar to these gauntlets with the correct enchantments, but there was no way I could do that for her. I am posing as a chained Deity after all. Even saying that one of my subordinates found them would be so unbelievable that I would just dig myself a deeper hole. I may need to tell a few truths… In the end, the best lies were partially true.

"They were made with a different method, one that some of my prospective members have been researching for quite some time," I mused. The intrigue in Hephaestus' eyes pushed me forward. "Most smiths nowadays need to have the skills and development abilities necessary to create Magic Weaponry and Armor. My followers have succeeded without them."

It wasn't exactly a lie, as creating equipment in Yggdrasil required a base item with subsequent materials and possibly magic depending upon the recipe. It was possible to reproduce the results here in the new world, so long as I had the ingredients. However, unless I proved it, I would be placed under constant suspicion.

"You don't say," she narrowed her eye at me, unsure if my words could be trusted. However, her curiosity was getting the better of her. "If that is the case, I would very much like to—

"Hephaestus! I wasn't done!" Hestia got between us and stamped her feet like a toddler in a department store, trying to get what they wanted from their parents. "The skeleton and I need to discuss what he's going to do about my Child!"

It took every ounce of my mental capacity to tear my attention away from the forge goddess, who appeared to be irritated to no end, in order to respond to Hestia. It was also difficult to avoid looking behind me at the sound of teeth grinding down to nubs. I may need to check Albedo's mouth later. This amount of gnashing could cause some lasting damage. My head reflexively tilted at the goddess' words. "Hm? To what Child are you referring?"

"My Bell Cranell! He got chased by a Minotaur and was saved by Loki's Sword Princess!" she marched up to me and shoved her wrath-infused finger up at me, nearly touching my exposed sternum. "Then your Child came along and nearly shocked the soul right out of him! You better be ready to take responsibility!"

Eh? I scared a little boy? When was this? I mean, yeah, when Albedo and I explored the city for the first time, I scared quite a few people, but there was nothing about a Minotaur…

Wait, Aiz Wallenstein saved a young man from a Minotaur during our first meeting. Perhaps…

"Are you speaking of the white haired boy with the Sword Princess? He was the one who fled after Momonga met the two of them after the incident," I placed my thumb and forefinger on my chin in thought as the memory of the kid appeared in my mind.

"That's the one! He came home distraught and terrified!" Hestia clutched a hand to her chest as she remembered how he looked. "You need to make sure your Children understand the consequences of their actions, especially if they're going to be poaching!"

A few whispers broke out in the crowd. Poaching was a serious offense that could lead to severe fines and even the disbandment of a Familia. With an accusation having been informally made, I was becoming the center of attention yet again.

Of course, I was already prepared for this moment, "I have done no such thing."

"What?!" squawked Hestia, the dumbfounded expression on her face spreading to many of the other faces surveying the scene. "How is it not poaching?! You gained money illegally in the dungeon, as well as performed the activities of a Familia without being registered with the Guild! That is in clear violation of Guild Law and the laws we Deities have set for ourselves!"

The murmuring grew as the rumors started flying. However, despite the distractions around me, I kept my eyes leveled on the little goddess below me. The money we gained from the dungeon was, in fact, gained illegally. Also, the laws of the Deities stipulated that they would adhere to Gekai's rules. In their eyes, I was clearly blaspheming the "game" they had established. Luckily for me, it was easy to make their accusations become unfounded claims.

"It is true that Momonga had been gallivanting about in the dungeon for several weeks," I nodded, sending people into an uproar. However, when I raised my hand for quiet, they were kind enough to cease their grumblings, "but during the time he had been illegally entering the dungeon, he was unaffiliated with Ainz Ooal Gown Familia. After all, Ainz Ooal Gown Familia doesn't exist as of yet."

Everyone blinked, the information passing through their heads and flipping everything upside down. Many of them flapped their jaws in stunned silence, obviously wanting to say something in objection, but they couldn't quite come up with a riposte.

Hestia, however, did not have that issue. The words came both quickly and furiously, "Then where has all the money gone?! Since you have admitted that he has been poaching, then that means the rumors about him clearing Floors is true! Have you not received a cut of his earnings?!"

I dismissively shrugged my shoulders. My apparent nonchalance seemed to be putting the hearth goddess off. "What Momonga does with his money and spare time is none of my concern. Since he doesn't have my mark on him yet, I bear no responsibility for his transgressions. However, once I bestow my Falna upon him, I will make sure he is held accountable for his crimes. If the Guild wishes to fine him or bar him from the dungeon, then he must deal with it on his own. Of course, his punishment will be decided by the Guild; not by any of you."

My response was accentuated by smug giggles from the female Guardians standing behind me. Demiurge crossed his arms, his sharp teeth bared in his signature grin that stretched from ear to ear. The surrounding Deities couldn't say anything. They knew I was completely in the right, in spite of my blatant bending of the rules. Even Hestia was forced into a state of irritated pouting. My bases were easily covered, and the fate of my shadow known as Momonga would be left up to the Guild. If I could continue masquerading as Momonga or if the name must fade into obscurity, neither outcome mattered to me anymore.

The only name I was interested in spreading from the start was that of Ainz Ooal Gown.

I slipped my gloved hand into my inside pocket and grabbed a small bag. With a flick of my wrist, I tossed it over to Hestia. Surprised that it came flying in her direction, she panicked for a moment before fumbling with it when it bounced off her palms. She then held it up between her two fingers and stared at it with scorn, like she was holding something dirty. Her eyes then trailed up to meet mine, as if asking what she was supposed to do with it.

With a sigh, I waved as if shooing her away, "That contains a few valuable jewels. Go ahead and sell them and buy your Child some new armor or something. Aiz Wallenstein won't always be there to bail him out of a sticky situation, so he should have at least one layer of reliable protection."

The Goddess of the Hearth was speechless. She poured the contents of the pouch into her hand and beheld the rubies and emeralds that spilled out. Their values ranged anywhere from a few thousand Valis to fifteen thousand for one of the more unflawed gems.

"If you're good at haggling, you might be able to walk away with about one hundred twenty thousand Valis; more than enough of a remuneration for giving a single boy a fright," I explained offhandedly while taking in her slack jawed reaction. "I just hope this isn't how you act when your Child gets scared and runs off. Don't expect another handout from me if the boy flees just because he bumps into Momonga again."

Leaving that behind, I walked past her, noticing that she had drooped her head with both her fists and jaw clenched. I might have been a bit too harsh, but I refused to allow people to take advantage of my kindness. Money brought out the worst in people; it was even worse when they were desperate. If Hestia's Child couldn't make it as an Adventurer, then Hestia Familia's future will be in jeopardy; though that was none of my business.

I suppose my expectations for the Goddess of the Hearth were just a bit too high.

"Well, it was quite entertaining, meeting all of you tonight. I learned quite bit, and I hope to get along well with all of you," I stipulated, glancing over my shoulder at the dejected black haired goddess. "I regret to say that I must take my leave. Let us all enjoy this game."

Some of the Deities nodded along, gladly accepting the challenge, while others watched me guardedly, unsure if they could trust me. I expected no less from my opponents in this new world's game.

"Hephaestus-dono, I would very much like to continue our discussion regarding new smithing techniques. Perhaps we could speak at a later date?" I stipulated, trying my best to be friendly.

The Goddess of Blacksmiths gave a curt smile and a nod, "I think I would like that. I still have a lot of questions that need answers."

I chuckled and turned away. I made to leave through the exit, but spun at the last moment to Loki. She was still gushing over the compliments she received. It seemed she hadn't been listening to anything that had been said. When I approached, she looked up at me with creased eyes from grinning and giggling, completely unperturbed by the atmosphere.

"There is still a lot of information that we need to gather about our… specimen," I whispered lowly to her, hoping she heard me through her strange stupor. "Once we learn more, I can share the information with you. Hopefully, it can help us understand the dungeon better, and more importantly, explore it more thoroughly. With our two Familias working together, our Children can only benefit from the potential growth.

"Take care now, Loki-dono. I will keep in touch."


I only managed to get a noncommittal response from the seemingly drunken Trickster Goddess. Finally, I turned away and headed to the exit with my subordinates in tow. Apparently, the goddess finally came to and wondered aloud why everyone was acting so strangely.

I had accomplished my goals for the evening, and they were none the wiser about Ganesha's disappearance. I must congratulate Pandora's Actor once he returned to his post in the Treasury. Once we were finally free from the banquet, we ducked into an alleyway and teleported away with [GATE].

I wonder how things are going at the mansion…

"Haa… haa… URK!"

A mixture of undigested food and a cocktail of wine and champagne splashed against the cobbled walk of the nearby alleyway. Once she had expelled everything, she wiped her mouth with the back of her gloved hand and leaned against the pristine, white stone of Ganesha's Headquarters. Through heaving breaths, her mind raced.

The Goddess of Beauty had ducked out of the banquet the moment the newcomers entered. Normally, the arrival of a new Deity in Gekai was nothing with which to be concerned. However, this time she had been so overwhelmed by their presences that she just needed to leave; to escape. Her stomach threatened to wretch again as her head spun from the confusion. Her overloaded senses bombarded her mind, making her dizzy and throwing her off balance.

She had not expected to see such amazing creatures appear before her.

Just the act of remembering their auras gave her such pleasure that it was too much for her to bear.

The sinister smile and condescending gaze of the man in the orange suit appeared just as evil on the outside as he did on the inside. His aura was as black as night, and the horror radiated from him in waves of atrocious screams coming from the mouths of what lied within his soul. Countless bulges of darkness rose, fell, and surged throughout his body, each a soul with their own aura, power, and consciousness. The only way for Freya to understand what she saw was to assume the man was actually made up of multiple creatures, each more evil than the next. She had never laid eyes on anything like it, even during her time as the Arbiter of Souls; and she had seen an innumerable amount.

The small, pale girl who preceded the man would set the teeth of anyone who saw her on edge. Like the others, her aura was black, but there was something else. A deep, ancient, crimson-colored hole nearly sucked the Goddess of Beauty's will out through her eyes. It was perpetually empty; an abyss of constant hunger and starvation. The voracity she felt from the girl made her believe that nothing could fill the void. Her permanent state of hunger would never be satisfied. Everything she ate, she wholly devoured toward a pointless end, for it would never fill that emptiness.

The color of her aura was not the only detail about the girl that gave Freya a rare cause for concern. As just about everyone knew about her, Freya's eyes were special. Her ability to see the color and quality of a soul's aura was used in congruence with her job as Arbiter. It was common knowledge, but few knew what the ability could do in regards to an Adventurer's level. Freya could see not only a person's disposition, but also their potential and general ability. She couldn't see specifics, like statistics or skills, but she could gauge someone's power quite easily. Her Ottar was unmatched when it came to his power. His brightness and intensity dwarfed everyone she had ever judged.

And that, at least, had still held true tonight. However, something seemed off about her. Despite her aura being bright and full, it was dulled significantly by… something. It was as if Freya was looking through a curtain, trying to discern the attributes of what lied underneath. Whatever strength the Child had, if that was what she was, it was being hidden from view. She could only trust her gut feeling that if Ottar were to go against her, the goddess would fear for the Boaz's life. All she knew was that she needed to remain guarded when it came to moving against the newcomers, which did not sit well with her.

Her focus then went to the first two people who entered the banquet hall. If not for the others, they would have caused her to be stricken blind, deaf, and dumb. Their auras were black like the other two, but the tall skeleton and the horned woman had less of an impact.

It wasn't that they were less impressive; far from it. It was that she had seen them before. She was surprised that those two presences appeared tonight, but she was even more caught off guard by the fact that two others followed behind them.

When she saw the two people, the man in black armor and the mauve-colored, horned warrior marching down West Main, their auras burned into her brain, leaving a permanent scar of desire. She remembered them, obsessed over them. She wanted them so much that she yearned for them every moment since then. She thought that since Ottar had yet to return, she would need to wait even longer before they became hers, but here they were, parading right in front of her eyes. And now there were more of whom she desired. She believed the excitement she felt just days ago was the highest rush she would feel for many years to come. Now, even that had been topped.

She wanted nothing more than to have them. Even if they refused to work for her, she would accept them. She just wanted to fill the gap left in her heart by the searing darkness emitted by their souls. She wanted to shower them in her love, and have them love her in return; that last part was not a requirement in her book, however. She wanted to bask in their colors, feel the thrumming and vibrations of their power, and drown herself in the passion that was sure to come. Just thinking about it made her dizzy. She felt both cold and hot, unsure what to do with either sensation.

But to think the Silent Swordsman was actually a Deity…

Freya almost couldn't believe her eyes when the creature entered the room. The aura she painstakingly chiseled into her mind's eye appeared before her tonight, sans black armor and blades. It was the same. She was sure of it. Such a scandal had never occurred; a Deity posing as an Adventurer… or was it the other way around? The skeleton lacked a certain glow that was indicative of her kind, but his power was immeasurable, and, like the pale girl in purple, hidden from her sight. Even if he was an Adventurer masquerading as a god, he could certainly give many of them a run for their money.

"Interesting," her hot breath passed through her cherry lips, the sigh of longing following shortly after.

She was the only one who knew. She was the only one who could see. The Silent Swordsman and this new "Deity" were one and the same. Her heart began to race. The objects of her desire were unknowingly approaching her outstretched hands. However, like a frightened animal incapable of taking the initiative, she needed a way to coax them into her grasp. This was her "way in." She needed to get closer without them realizing, and a dangerous secret was how she would do it.

Movement caught her eye. The figures sporting black auras filed into the alleyway opposite her own. She approached the street, peeking across into the darkness. There was a small flash of light. Against the murky curtain of night, a purplish window appeared like a tear in reality. Her mouth fell agape as they all disappeared through it, the window also fading away with a light pop.

Teleport Magic…

The use of holy magic, save for a select few spells, was forbidden by the rules put in place by the Deities themselves. Breaking the rules, or adhering to them. Chained or unchained. Nothing mattered to Freya anymore, even if she was tossed out of the game. Even if she was forced to return to Tenkai. Simply having them was enough.

Her face contorted in an uncharacteristic grin. Her lips were pulled taut, her teeth were fully bared, and her eyes were bulging from their sockets. Her desire got the better of her in a rare lapse of control. She couldn't stop the ominous chuckle from leaving her throat.

They would be hers. She was so close, she could taste it. Collecting herself, the Goddess of Beauty sauntered back to her home in the tower. Her unsuspecting Children were unaware of the fiery passion that was about to descend upon them.

Bell was wrapped in the comfortable cushions of a loveseat in the office of a goddess. However, it wasn't the office of his own goddess; she didn't even have one. His hands were folded in his lap and his gaze was cast to the carpeted floor. He tried his best to be as small as possible, which wasn't difficult for the white rabbit. The only problem was that there were several pairs of eyes trained on him as it was.

Shortly after Aiz Wallenstein's duel, he had been dragged through the streets of Orario toward the Twilight Manor, which served as Loki Familia's Headquarters. They had traveled all the way up North Main, nearly reaching the wall. Bell was surprised when he laid eyes upon what looked like a castle. The main building and surrounding spires were made of white stone, and were impeccably clean. The red tiling of the roof and cone-shaped caps on the watchtowers popped against the pristine bricks.

He was hurried through the gates with blatant disregard to the calls coming from the watchmen charged with preventing intruders; Aiz cast them an icy glare, causing them to turn tail without another word. Sensing just how strange she was acting, the others were trying to convince her that letting Bell in was a bad idea, but she shot them down one by one, only bringing up just how important it would be for him to be present.

The rest of their trip through the halls of the Twilight Manor was a blur to the boy, as he was tossed, like usual, onto the sofa, bringing him to his current situation. He glanced up from the floor only to see the top tier Adventurers from Loki Familia staring down at him from different parts of the room. Their names were some of the few personal details Bell knew of them, as many of the stories about their adventures were public knowledge.

The captain of Loki Familia, second only to Loki herself, the pallum Finn Deimne. The vice-captain of Loki Familia, the elf Reveria Ljos Alf. The first-class Adventurers who put Loki Familia on the map, the dwarf Gareth Landrock, the twin Amazons Tione and Tiona Hiryute, the werewolf Bete Loga, and finally, the Sword Princess Aiz Wallenstein.

Most of them regarded him with interest, though Bete appeared to be snarling under his breath, clucking his tongue every few moments to show his distaste for the white rabbit. None of them knew why Aiz had brought him along. In their heads, there was no way anything could be so important that it excused allowing him entry into the Headquarters. It was a serious taboo to allow those of other Familias into the home base of your own. Many secrets just lied around unattended, and people could accidentally divulge important, sensitive information. Bell being there was a one-in-a-million happenstance, and something he never expected to happen again.

Strangely, the only person from whom he would have adored receiving attention didn't even look his way. Aiz Wallenstein stood near the empty wooden desk with her arms crossed, the tip of her foot impatiently tapping against the carpet. The muffled rustling of the fabric was the only noise in the room, worrying Bell that they might even start hearing the sound of him sweating bullets.

After what felt like ages, someone finally broke the silence. True to form, the captain stepped up, "As I am sure, those of us present are rather confused about these particular circumstances. Aiz, I understand that there is something you know that you may not necessarily be capable of explaining to us at the moment, but is it really so important that you needed to drag in an outsider?"

The blond pallum leveled a cautionary look at the other blonde in the room. Aiz turned her head away, her expression still even and calm, but it was evident that she was struggling with the secrets she had been hiding. With a sigh, she answered, "I am under strict instructions from Loki-sama to keep everything about this topic a secret. I cannot reveal anything without her expressed permission."

Bell's eyes widened. Even with his fear addled mind, he could put the pieces of the puzzle together. Without a process of thought that involved keeping his mouth shut, he asked, "Is this about what I think it's about?"

All eyes flew back to him again, nearly drawing a yelp straight from his mouth. This time though, the eyes he wanted on him the whole time finally glanced his way, sending a shiver up his spine. Aiz said nothing else, and simply gave him a curt nod. Her peers' confusion deepened to almost frustrating levels. The older members were able to hide their thoughts, but the younger crowd failed to mask their emotions. With pouts and gnashing teeth, they grumbled angrily.

Before any of them could voice their vexation, a loud shout echoed from down the hall, easily piercing the closed door. It sounded far away, but was steadily growing louder as the people approached.

"I don't even know why you're here!" the feminine, yet gruff voice blared into their ears. "You know how wrong it is for a Deity to enter another's home!"

"I'm just following Hephaestus! She and I still have unfinished business!" another female screamed. Bell's ears perked up when he heard it.

"And I already told you," the deeper, yet also female voice responded, the exasperation clear in her words, "I am not going to help you anymore! You need to start fending for yourself."

"You hear that, Itty Bitty? You can leave now!"

"I'm not going anywhere until I convince Hephaestus to help me!"

A sigh came from right outside the door as the owners of the voices stood in front of it. "Like I just told you…"

The door was brusquely opened and three figures walked in, only to freeze in the doorway. The three goddesses still dressed for a banquet blinked at the reception. None of them had expected to run into several first-class Adventurers and—

"Bell-kun?!" the black haired Deity rushed forward. "What are you doing here?!" Her eyes then settled on the blonde swordswoman. Like a scurrying animal, Hestia stepped between Bell and Aiz, even though they were several feet apart. "Was it you, Wallen-whatsit?! Are you after my Bell-kun?!"

With a dog-like growl that could even put Bete to shame, the Goddess of the Hearth glowered at her blonde rival. Aiz's head tilted with wonder, unsure why she would think something like that.

"I don't know what you mean, but I did bring him here, yes," she replied, completely disregarding the tension.

"Just as I thought!" Hestia grabbed one of her black twintails and started chewing on it. Then she began grumbling nonsensically, "How could you make a move while I was away?! Mu~ mu~ mu~—!"

Bell watched quizzically as his goddess threw a tantrum. She had told him that she would be away for a few days, but he did not expect to see her so soon. The other two goddesses, as well as the other Adventurers present had also been watching. A red haired blur flew behind Aiz and stuck her head over the swordswoman's shoulder. Loki peered down at Hestia with anger from behind her prized Adventurer.

"How dare you accuse my Aizu-tan of taking your Child!" she appeared genuinely offended that Hestia would even consider the notion. However, that expression quickly faltered and morphed into a lascivious one. A pair of hands shot out from either side of the Sword Princess and threatened to wrap around her. "I mean, to think someone with a chest like this could be a kidnapper! Perish the thought!"

The wriggling fingers closed in, but never reached their marks. With a strike so quick and fierce, one of Aiz's fists flew over her shoulder and smashed into Loki's face. The goddess staggered backward, spun, and crashed into the desk. Bumping the edge with her hips, she flopped forward and lied on the desktop in a daze. She let out a soft sound like a "murgle" and a groan of pain. Eventually, it devolved into girlish giggles.

"First I'm complimented, and then my Aizu-tan bends me over my own desk… fufufufufu," the chuckles continued. "Tonight was a good night."


The Sword Princess' eyes twitched as she uttered those words of warning. Like ice, Loki's emotions were instantly cooled. She straightened herself and looked back at Aiz with a small pout.

"I know that tone. Something happened, didn't it?" she inquired, though the nods from her Children merely confirmed her suspicions. She sighed, then walked around her desk and sat in the chair, her black skirt billowing out around the armrests. With her elbows on the wood and her head resting on the backs of her gloved hands, she assumed a listening position, "So, what happened?"

The Adventurers looked to Aiz. Her fellow Familia members didn't know anything and their patience was beginning to run thin. Stepping forward, she placed her ruined sword on the desk and spoke, "I think it's time we told them everything."

Loki's eyes cracked open slightly, glancing down at the sword before her. The blade was in its sheath, but it was easy to see that it had been through hell. She lifted her gaze to the Sword Princess with uncertainty, "I suppose it is time, but what does that have to do with your weapon?"

Aiz lifted the blade from the desk, grabbed the broken hilt and drew it from its sheath. She struggled to release the sword from its protector, but with a little muscle, it came free. Normally, one would have expected a sword to sparkle in the light, but the sheen on this weapon was dull and scuffed. Scrapes and deep scratches peppered the metal's surface. It was completely bent out of shape and there were divots all along the edge. Even an inexperienced Adventurer like Bell could tell that no amount of sharpening would return the edge to its original state. To make matters worse, the blade was fractured down the center of the fuller. One more strike, and the sword would have shattered.

A single strike was how close she was to defeat, Bell thought hard, glancing at the Sword Princess. And yet she never lost her cool. He gazed at her with awe, seemingly dazzled by her courage. The fact that she had been ready to escalate that duel to dangerous levels, despite her weapon being in such a terrible state sent chills up and down his back.

Loki, on the other hand, wore an expression of worry as she rubbed the back of her head, "Oh, man! You were supposed to take it easy until Desperate got fixed! That was a loaner blade, you know?! It was no special sword, but it was still expensive! The Gnomes are gonna be so pissed!

"I thought you were just going out to dinner while I was out. What, did you get drunk and decide to go into the dungeon? Do you understand how irresponsible that is?!"

A normal person in a typical situation would have appeared sheepish, but Aiz was having none of it. She took the blade in her hands and, with a single twist, snapped it in half. Screeching metal filled their ears when the sword pathetically gave way. The goddesses each had unique reactions; Hestia flinched, Hephaestus clucked her tongue, while Loki's mouth hanged agape. If the Trickster Goddess didn't like Aiz so much, she may have flown off the handle and punished her.

"Have you lost your mind?! It's unsalvageable now!"

"We didn't go into the dungeon," she calmly explained. Loki's eyes implored her to continue. "We had a run in with Ainz Ooal Gown Familia."

The goddesses froze. Although Hestia and Hephaestus were merely surprised that the prospective members of the newest Deity bumped into Loki's Children on the same night as his introduction, Loki's expression was that of an anxious child who was about to get into trouble with her parents. Staring down at the shards of steel that littered her desktop, she let out a grumble of thought. Her eyes then trailed up to the white haired boy sitting comfortably on the sofa, though his muscles seemed to be painfully taut.

In apparent frustration, she inquired, "I take it that's why Itty Bitty's Child is here?"

Aiz nodded and turned to Bell, causing him to shoot out of his seat like a bolt of lightning. "Yes, I believe they have become aware of the Guild Report I submitted, and that Bell Cranell was documented as the only witness."

"Guild Report?" Reveria was the first to speak, surprise laced in her words. The serious elf tossed a narrowed glance in Bell's direction, thinking that he may reveal something simply by being present. Shaking her head lightly, she turned to Aiz, "Whom did you report? And for what?"

Aiz gave a cursory glance at Loki, who nodded with acceptance, urging her onward. Taking a breath, the Sword Princess stated, "I reported an Adventurer named Momonga. He himself stated that he was a member of Ainz Ooal Gown Familia, but you all may know him as the Silent Swordsman."

Everyone's eyes widened as they took in the information. As first-class Adventurers, they were privy to the latest notifications and rumors of the dungeon. Part of an Adventurer's job was to be prepared and up-to-date on the latest goings on in the dungeon. If they were ignorant of things to avoid or dangerous monsters lurking outside of their usual stomping grounds, the next corner they turned could lead to their untimely demises. The Silent Swordsman was one such rumor that had been making the rounds as of late.

All the stories were the same. The massive man in black armor traveled from floor to floor, killing any monster that crossed his path. If he ever met any Adventurers, he would stand aside with his arms crossed, waiting for them to pass before he continued on his merry way, killing every monster he saw. As with any rumor, there were those who believed it and those who didn't. However, as the sightings became more numerous, people were forced to accept the fact that there was a strange person wandering the dungeon.

This scared quite a few people, but there were those who thought he was doing them all a service; at least until they realized there were no more monsters for them to hunt.

"You're talking about that guy, right?" asked the large-chested Amazon Tione. "If anything, he's been making it a hell of a lot easier on us. We can get deeper into the dungeon much faster now that we don't need to deal with all the Level One monsters. Why would you report him?"

"Bell-kun! Why didn't you tell me you put your name on a Guild Report?!" Hestia was railing into the boy, her pointer finger wagging in front of his face. "And you, Wallen-whatsit! How could you drag my Child into this?!"

They sounded like words of accusation, but Aiz had her reasons. To cool the rising tempers, Loki spoke up, "Because the Silent Swordsman is a poacher. He is not a member of any official Familia, yet he has been dungeon diving for weeks now."

Aiz expounded on her first interaction with Momonga several days prior. Even though Bell was present, there wasn't anything more he could add since he left before the bulk of the conversation took place. She even broached on all of the research she did at the Guild that came up short.

Hestia chewed on her lip in frustration, "I knew something was wrong with this situation! And this Ainz Ooal Goon is to blame!"

"Please hold a moment," the blond pallum stepped forward. Finn crossed his thin arms and assumed a thoughtful pose, trying to put the information in order inside his own head. "So this Silent Swordsman is a poacher working under a Deity named Ainz Ooal Gown. Knowing this, Aiz put forth a Guild Report about the incident with Cranell-kun as the witness. I take it you had enough evidence to support such a claim, yes?"

Aiz nodded, "I even had one of the Guild Employees draw it up. She said that there was no Adventurer by the name of Momonga in the Guild's records. When I asked him what Familia he belonged to, he said 'Ainz Ooal Gown.' Since that Familia didn't exist either, that was sufficient evidence to bring him up on charges."

"Though the odds of any of those charges sticking are very slim," Loki piped up again, crossing her gloved arms. Everyone looked at her questioningly, but the goddesses already knew why. With a sigh, Loki rubbed her forehead, "Why don't you tell us what happened tonight? I want to hear it."

Putting the discussion on hold, Bell stepped forward and told his side of the story. A female werewolf approached him at the bar where he was eating and struck up a conversation with him. He recanted as many of the topics as he could, save for anything that caused Bell some embarrassment. Once he got to the part when Loki Familia entered the Benevolent Mistress, Aiz took over. She went into detail about how Lupusregina joined the argument regarding Bete's attitude.

"When she introduced herself, I had no choice but to step in," Aiz sighed while shaking her head. "They had no idea who she was, or how dangerous going against her would have been."

"That was pretty stupid," Loki admonished her star Adventurer, but gave her a proud grin nonetheless. "But you did the right thing. So what happened next?"

She went over the duel, and how much of a difficult fight it was against the werewolf. They had only traded a few blows, but it was enough to destroy Aiz's blade. She then explained the other two people who arrived, the blonde maid and the butler also from Ainz Ooal Gown Familia. They came and disciplined the werewolf before apologizing for the trouble and leaving. After that, she decided to bring Bell along to the Headquarters to bring more information to the table.

"There are three more?" Loki placed her thumb and forefinger on her chin, her eyes creased shut in thought. "With the three we met tonight, that's six altogether."

The Sword Princess' eyes widened when she heard her goddess' mumblings. When Loki caught sight of her expression, she crossed her arms again. "I find it strange that you had an encounter with the Familia members while we met the Deity ourselves at the banquet tonight. Also, he brought along even more potential Familia members."

Many of the Adventurers present tilted their heads in confusion, but Aiz was completely caught off guard. Her hands were clenched into fists. Her voice left her throat in a rare show of urgency, "There are even more?!"

Loki nodded and began telling them what had happened at the banquet. The arrival of the Deity known as Ainz Ooal Gown on the scene was a momentous event, especially since so many powerful beings were allying themselves under him. He had three others escorting him, who she described in detail. One of them stood out in Aiz's mind.

"The Orange Man was there?" she mused. "I had never come across the other two before."

"He called himself Demiurge," Loki answered, folding her hands on her desktop. "You've never seen the horned woman, or the silver haired girl?"

Aiz shook her head. Everyone else was quickly becoming lost as she and Loki traded information. It was the brown haired dwarf's deep, gravelly voice that broke them out of their exchange, "It seems there's something you haven't told us. Something has been nagging at me after listening to all of this. If your first meeting with the Adventurer Momonga was just a verbal exchange, how did you know the maid would be that strong? And what of the other members you've mentioned?"

For a second time, Aiz glanced at Loki, wondering if it was right to divulge the rest of their secret. The goddess could tell that the Sword Princess was nervous. If she told them and they refused to believe it, then they would underestimate their enemies. If Ainz Ooal Gown Familia went against their own Familia, her family would get destroyed. She wanted to tell them, but dreaded it all the same.

Rather than leave it all up to Aiz, Loki decided to set the mood by warning her Children, "Now you all better listen well," she pointed to each of them. Her first-class Adventurers were so surprised by the seriousness and sudden gravity of her words that they instantly jumped to attention. "What Aizu is about to tell you is an unbelievable story. It is something I never would have thought possible. However, with all the rumors floating around and the new Deity who appeared tonight, I am forced to trust her words.

"Even if you choose to disregard the story, know that you are to proceed with caution if there is any situation in which you cross paths with Ainz Ooal Gown Familia."

With an encouraging nod, Loki motioned for Aiz to begin. When all eyes fell on her, she gulped. This was her family; well, most of them were. There was no reason to be apprehensive. Whether or not they believed her was their choice. She would stand firm by her own memories and experiences. She would stand by the emotion that was beaten into her soul when Momonga first appeared in the Boss Room; she wanted them to know the fear they instilled in her.

"It was the last night of our recent dungeon expedition," she began, recalling the events from that day. "It was just after dinner and everyone was beginning to settle down. I was slated for the night watch, so I set out to patrol the perimeter. It wasn't more than an hour later that I saw several shadows enter the staircase to the Boss Room."

Finn's head tilted with wonder, his arms still crossed. "We had defeated the Monster Rex on our way down. By the time we were headed back, it should have been enough time for it to respawn."

"Exactly," she inclined her head thankfully before she continued. "I wasn't sure how long that party had been in the dungeon, or even if they were aware of how long it had been since the Monster Rex was disposed, but since a sufficient amount of time had passed, Goliath could have returned by then. I did my best to catch up to them, but they were moving pretty quickly."

"Sounds to me like they were being cautious, right?" Tione shrugged. "Smaller parties tended to run through that room before the Boss could emerge from the crystal wall. That's just about the only time it's slow, or even considered remotely vulnerable."

"Normally, yes," Aiz crossed her arms, seemingly holding herself for comfort. "But this party didn't bother escaping. They toyed with it."

Everyone around the room was blinking. The Sword Princess couldn't tell what it was that she said that caused the confusion; was it the fact that a party so small decided to fight the Monster Rex, or the fact that they not only had an easy time of it, but they decided to play with their prey?

"There was a female mage with long, black hair, and she seemed to be wearing some sort of metal maid uniform," even as the words left her mouth, she knew it sounded strange. She could tell she was beginning to lose them. She decided to soldier on anyway, "Her magic was incredibly powerful. It only took her a single ice spell to encase the entire Monster Rex in a block so thick that it couldn't break free."

"That sounds impossible," Reveria pursed her lips. When she looked up and saw everyone's gaze turned to her, she clarified, "I mean to say that magic like that can exist, but if there was someone capable of such a feat, I believe we would know who she was."

"True," Gareth grumbled with a nod. "Someone who can do that is mostly likely a middle-class Adventurer."

"I would even put them in first-class range," Reveria corrected her comrade.

"Even if that is the case, the fact that we have never heard of her, and yet she is that powerful, means something is amiss," Finn joined in with the other veterans of Loki Familia.

"What's worse is that there's more," Aiz sighed. She had thought of all of this already, but she came up with nothing at the Guild. Though, this wasn't the time to voice her shortcomings. "Even the most dangerous attack the Monster Rex has didn't have any effect. The one known as Momonga, or the Silent Swordsman, took two Howls at pointblank. He wasn't hurt at all. There were no scratches or abrasions on his armor; he wasn't even pushed back. Not even his cape was torn."

They were stunned into silence. The Monster Rex Goliath was a powerful Boss monster that marked the entrance to the first "safe area" of the dungeon. In comparison to other monsters that roam the floors around it, it was stronger than any of them. It was confined to that room, so anyone who didn't wish to battle it could dash through the room as fast as they could, or just not descend to that floor. Large groups of low-class, or a specialized group of first-class Adventurers were recommended for its disposal.

Aiz and Loki Familia have fought Goliath many times. They knew its strength, abilities, and skills inside and out. They knew how it acted in certain situations, and even how its mannerisms changed when it was near defeat. One aspect of the fight that they knew more than any other was how dangerous the beast's Howl ability was. It was powerful, destructive, and nearly impossible to survive if anyone had been hit directly; they might have pulled through if a healer was nearby to administer immediate first aid. Even a graze from a Howl could result in the loss of a limb. It didn't matter how strong the Adventurer was; taking a hit from that was almost certain death.

Yet the Sword Princess was saying she saw someone take not one, but two Howls from mere feet away, and came out completely unscathed.

"Sounds like bullshit to me," the gray werewolf scoffed, while plucking his teeth with his fingernail, though no one could miss a nervous chuckle escaping him.

"Are you calling Aiz a liar?!" the smaller Amazon Tiona confronted him. "Sure, it sounds weird, but why would she lie about something like this?!"

Bete rubbed the back of his head, sighing with exasperation. "I don't mean to say she made it all up. It just sounds so… so…"

"Unbelievable," Loki finished for him. He turned his baffled expression to his goddess. "It sounds impossible, I know. But if she is going to make something up, then she is smart enough to describe something that doesn't belong in a fantasy."

The older members glanced at each other, but they kept their opinions to themselves. However, the youngest one in the room went stark white. If there were people who were that strong just walking around, he might feel like he was being crushed by the anxiety. Someone like he who can barely lift his own knife against a Minotaur wouldn't stand a chance against them. He wasn't sure if he could even be in the same room.

Though Lupu-san wasn't a bad person, he still had no idea why she was there…

"After that, the maid subdued the Monster Rex with more ice," she shook her head, not wanting to go on. The next part was a shameful moment for the courageous Adventurer, but they needed to know. "Momonga and the Orange Man… Demiurge spoke about taking it with them.

"I don't know what happened after that, because the fear got the better of me and I hid against the wall. Even though I worked up enough courage to look around the corner, the last thing I saw was Momonga disappearing into a portal of some kind, and the Orange Man staring in my direction with a smile that filled me with dread. He didn't do anything though, he just followed after them."

They were gone, and I left, were the last words she spoke before averting her gaze. Everyone knew she felt ashamed for not doing anything, but none of them could blame her. If they had seen what she had, then what would they have done? According to Aiz's story, if she had fought, she would have died. When their family was on the line, their pride as Adventurers was put on hold; that was just the way Loki Familia worked.

"I'm not sure I get all of this…" Tione mumbled, putting on her best puzzled expression. "What would they want with a Monster Rex, anyway? The thing is violent at the best of times. Keeping it as a pet would just get them killed."

"That's what you got from this?! A trip to the pet store?!" Bete couldn't keep himself from shouting. "Loki-sama, did this Ainz guy say anything about it?"

"I didn't ask him outright," she shook her head. "I was also a bit… er… distracted."

Hephaestus wore a knowing smile as she chuckled to herself. Hestia made a rather obscene noise with her mouth while rolling her eyes. In the face of her peers' reactions, Loki couldn't prevent a blush from settling high on her cheeks.

"W-well he did say one thing!" she turned her head away with a pout and her hands on her hips. Everyone knew she was just trying to change the subject. "He mentioned something about gathering information about his specimen. I can only assume he meant the Monster Rex. He also said he would contact us if they found anything interesting."

"Why would he do that?" the Sword Princess tilted her head, her eyes narrowed. "He would gain nothing from telling us anything regarding a 'stolen' Monster Rex."

"Correct," Finn held his chin in thought. "Even if they did find something out about the Monster Rex, they couldn't make an official addition to the Guild information concerning the Goliath on the 17th Floor. If anything, their reputation could take a hit. Let's face it, they already don't appear trustworthy to many of the Deities and Adventurers."

"Whatever the reason," Loki breathed, relaxing in her seat, "this Ainz Ooal Gown seems to have a significant interest in the dungeon. That is both an admirable and dangerous interest to have."

"Momonga said his reasons for entering the dungeon was money," replied Aiz, shifting her weight to her other leg and holding her arms. "His Deity's reason for researching monsters can't be much better."

"You're saying their aim might be the money?" Reveria glanced down with realization and allowed her thoughts to flow. "The more information they have, the more with which they can bargain. Even if the data on the monsters isn't official, Familias will devour it. They will pay whatever they can to get it. Preparedness is the game of the dungeon, after all."

"An untapped source of information in the hands of a Familia that has no qualms about breaking the rules," Loki's eyes cracked open. "With every Deity in Orario as a potential buyer, the smaller Familias won't be capable of keeping up with the higher ranked ones. Then there will be a bidding war. Whoever can pay the most will receive the information, as well as an advantage in the dungeon over everyone else. This could potentially become chaotic."

It sounded as if a plot was unfolding, and they were helpless to stop it. The information itself wasn't dangerous; far from it. Any new data on the Monster Rex would be beneficial to every Adventurer in Orario. However, if only the most lucrative Familias could have access to it, the smaller Familias would be driven into a corner. They would do anything they could in order to get their hands on that information.

Many would think they would resort to espionage. If they could steal it, or draw it out of someone through other means, they could reap the benefits for free. Nevertheless, facing the facts was a difficult thing to do for many. The truth was that the Deities would have this information on lockdown. There was no way to get it out of a Deity, unless the other gods and goddesses could come to an agreement.

Such as paying with something other than money…

Talent was hard to find when it came to Adventurers. For Deities to take on those who simply didn't have the penchant for becoming an Adventurer, it would have been a waste of time to feed them, clothe them, teach them, rear them, and grow them into worthwhile members of their Familia. It simply wasn't financially possible. However, if talent itself became a form of currency, there was a chance that Adventurers themselves could become bargaining chips for information.

Smaller Familias with little money, but impressive Children, would be forced to trade their own for a chance to grow larger than ever. Even if the Deities were forced to part with Children for whom they cared deeply, it may still be worth it in the long run.

It was a sad thought.

This may have been Ainz Ooal Gown's objective from the start. With all of the incredible talent following him before even giving them his Blessing, it may be what he treasured most.

He was very similar to Freya in that regard.

And another Freya wasn't necessarily a good thing.

"This is a lot to take in," Gareth sighed. "It's too much plotting for me."

Loki glanced at the ornate clock on the wall. It was quickly approaching midnight, and it had been such an eventful night that even she was growing tired. Plucking the hairclip from her head, her crimson hair fell to her shoulders as she sighed wearily, "We might as well sleep on it. All of this thinking might make us jump to conclusions. The last thing we need is to see things that aren't there and make false assumptions. Off to bed, kiddies!"

She waved them off playfully with her hands. The Adventurers present scanned the room for each other's eyes, wondering if this was the right place to end the discussion. Even with a little thought, they could only come to two conclusions: they knew a lot and they knew next to nothing. They felt that there was more to work out with what information they had. Unfortunately, since they didn't know the motives of this unknown Familia, there was no way to come up with anything concrete; all of their thoughts and conclusions would end up being fabrications based on circumstantial evidence.

With nods of acquiescence, they all began filing out through the door. Bell stood next to his goddess, but was suddenly tugged halfway across the room in an instant. With wide eyes, he followed the hand on his arm to the source. The golden haired girl had him in her grasp yet again.

He could get used to this… at least if his heart didn't threaten to leap from his chest.

"You're staying here for now," she squeezed slightly, sensing he might jump away.

"Oh…" he uttered in shock when the words failed to penetrate his brain. It took a few moments before the message finally sank into his fragile state of mind, shattering what was left of his little world. "EH?!"

"We're still unsure whether or not Ainz Ooal Gown Familia knows about your involvement with the Guild Report," her golden orbs pierced him, body and soul. "Letting you return to an empty home would be irresponsible."

"Wait! You can't be serious!" he was shouting with confusion.

"Sorry, Usagi-kun," Loki looked on with disdain, but nodded matter-of-factly. "It's safer here than in that rundown church where you live. Just keep your eyes down and your mouth shut. If any of our secrets get revealed, you will be the first one who pays for it."

He tried to plead, but was unceremoniously dragged away and out of the room. "Kami-samaaaaaaa~!"

The door slammed shut before Hestia could stop them. With a growl and a snarl, she marched up to Loki's desk and slammed her fists into it. "What do you think you're doing?! What do you want with my Bell-kun?!"

"Come now, Itty Bitty," Loki smirked like the trickster she was. "You know for a fact that we can't let that kid go home alone, especially since you have something to ask of Hephaestus, right?"

"Hey, I said no!" the Goddess of the Forge blinked incredulously.

The toothy grin the Trickster Goddess was flashing the twin tailed goddess caused her to turn as red as a beet with hot anger. With her tiny fists clenched, she was about ready to explode when she was hit with the realization that Loki was right. Hestia had no choice but to agree that their home just wasn't secure. With Bell in that small room all alone with monsters outside the dungeon looking for his cute little behind, she wouldn't be able to feel at ease unless she was with him at all times.

But that couldn't happen at the moment.

She still needed that favor.

"Please, Hephaestus," Hestia turned to her friend. The tears of anger in the corners of her eyes were now turning into those of desperation. "Bell-kun is in trouble, and I can't protect him unless I break the rules. He's too weak as he is right now. I need to give him every advantage I can, because if they come for him, something terrible might happen. I don't know what I would do if… if…"

Hestia wilted at the thought of something happening to her Child. Hephaestus watched as her friend begged and pleaded for help. This was different than the usual "begging" that Hestia did in the past. There was sincerity and desperation in her voice. She knew she was being unreasonable, and would even understand if Hephaestus still refused to do her a favor. What scared the Goddess of Smithing most wasn't that their friendship was on the line, but the years trust between them.

For Hestia, Hephaestus was taking an inordinate amount of time to come up with an answer. With shaky fingers, she reached into her pocket and pulled out the small, leather purse she had received earlier. She presented it to the taller goddess with both hands like she was making a religious offering. The tears flowed freely down her face.

"Please, take this as the first installment," she thrust it into her unsuspecting hands. Hephaestus stared down at the small goddess with a baffled expression. "I'll do anything! I don't care how much I need to pay, or how long I will be in debt to you, but Bell-kun needs this! I need this!"

The forge goddess' single eye glanced down at the purse. Ainz Ooal Gown said the contents could fetch one hundred twenty thousand Valis; that was only one-three thousandth of how much a custom weapon would cost, give or take a few million. It wouldn't even cover the ten percent down payment they required for orders this expensive. However, for someone as poor as Hestia, this was a fortune, and the only thing she had to offer.

She is willing to give everything for her Child.

Gripping the pouch in her hand, she nodded, "Okay, I will accept this as the down payment for a custom weapon." Hestia's head jerked up with her eyes swimming with tears. "But understand this, you will pay back every Valis, no matter how long it takes, even if it's a thousand years."

Hestia nodded thankfully, unable to form words. The tears flew in all directions every time her head moved. "Secondly," Hephaestus continued, "you will work in any of my shops that need help that day. This ensures that even if I don't get spendable money, I still get some value back in the form of unpaid employment. Finally, you're going to help in forging it. I'll slash the price a little for your assistance."

That was practically slavery. No one in their right mind would accept those terms, but Hestia was desperate. It was partially why Hephaestus left out the part about the frilly uniform she was planning on making Hestia wear. Even though this was serious business, she still liked dressing up her cute, doll-like friend. Also, since the weapon she had in mind was probably the worst thing she could create for someone who makes a living creating weapons, she felt she could take a few liberties. She wanted to get as much out of the deal as possible, since Hestia wouldn't need her business again.

Hestia's tears were flowing like waterfalls, and her nose was starting to run. With sniffles and whimpering, she leaped for the crimson haired goddess and latched her arms around her waist.


"Yeah, yeah, you're welcome… wait, DON'T WIPE YOUR NOSE ON ME!"



"Hah… please stop making so much noise," Loki quirked her eyebrow while folding her hands. "You realize how late it is, right?"

Hestia separated from Hephaestus reluctantly. The smaller goddess wiped her face repeatedly with the sleeve of her dinner jacket, leaving wet streaks in the fabric. The one-eyed goddess looked down at the stains on her red dress that nearly perfectly resembled Hestia's face. She was particularly put off by the area in the center where her nose had been.

Snickering like a mischievous child, Loki started removing her gloves as she spoke, "There is something else we need to discuss, so I will cut right to the chase: Were those really Thor's gauntlets?"

Hephaestus was quickly pulled away from the thought of how much it would cost to clean her dress. She recalled the scene from the banquet earlier; the feel of the iron beneath her fingers and the well of strength that lied within them. She folded her arms and grumbled, "They certainly looked the same, and even had a similar effect. If you put the two pairs side by side, I don't think you would be able to tell them apart."

"So, you're saying…" the trickster tried to lead her toward a conclusion.

"I can't say for sure," she shook her head, disappointing Loki. "There are a number of equipment and weapons made with magic that either impersonate or copy Divine Treasures. They may not have the full effects, but they make for decent replicas.

"If what Ainz Ooal Gown said is true, and he has invented a new way of creating Magic Weapons and enchanted equipment, then there's a possibility that more potent enchantments could be worked into the items. With Mages involved, they might be more capable than someone with the Mystery development skill."

"Hm…" Loki groaned. This wasn't in her wheelhouse, especially the more intricate stuff that Hephaestus dealt with when it came to keeping track of her Children's skills in blacksmithing. "What about your Crozzo boy? Would his weapons be stronger than something the skeleton could come up with?"

"I don't know yet. Unless I know the process, I couldn't even wager a guess."

"I see…"

The conversation stopped there. They had hit a dead end. There was no more information regarding the new Deity and his Familia. He had made an appearance. He had met with many of the Deities who have gathered in Orario, and yet they knew next to nothing.

So they needed to keep digging.

"He said he wanted to meet with you, right?" Loki pointed at Hephaestus lazily, seemingly running out of steam. When she nodded in response, Loki continued, "There's still a lot we don't know, and the notion of more powerful equipment is a cause for concern. I say you meet with him when you can. Invite him yourself, even! The sooner we learn more, the better. I will do the same."

There were so many questions without answers. It was faster to ask the man directly.

"It's the only way, I guess," the one-eyed goddess sighed dejectedly. "He kind of creeps me out, but if he is truly onto something, he might make a decent ally."

"We still need to learn more. Only after we learn that he isn't hostile can we discuss anything remotely similar to an alliance," Loki nodded in agreement, but her tone told them it was tentative. "He's caused us enough problems already."

The three goddesses nodded, accepting that until they knew more, Ainz Ooal Gown will go on the list of Familias for which others should be on the lookout. They all wanted to have powerful allies, and Ainz Ooal Gown fit the bill. However, it all depended on their intentions. What did they want? What did they want to do? Where did they plan to go? How did they plan to get there? All of these questions were causing the goddesses to worry their bottom lips as they chewed in frustration.

Hephaestus and Hestia left together, as they had quite a bit of work to do. Loki sat in her chair, staring at the desk in front of her. So much had happened tonight that she almost couldn't process it all. The fact that her Children ran into one of the Ainz Ooal Gown members was quite shocking. She believed that Aiz made the correct decision; though she would have told her to turn down the invitation for a duel. This Lupusregina sounded like a real piece of work. Being a maid, un-Blessed, and still capable of holding her own against her prized Aizu-tan was a combination she never thought she would see.

It was even more concerning that Momonga was still just as big a mystery. There was still a secret Loki kept; she even told Aiz that it had to remain secret. No matter what, she couldn't tell anyone, even if she was allowed to reveal everything.

That was the use of the words "Supreme Being." Aiz mentioned that Demiurge called Momonga a Supreme Being the night they absconded with the Monster Rex. However, the Orange Man regarded Ainz Ooal Gown in the same manner right in front of Loki's eyes not two hours ago. What did it mean?

Talk of an unchained Deity was a serious accusation. It could bring Divine Punishment down on the world in highly populated areas. No one would win in that event. It would lead to a pointless loss of life. It was best to keep a lid on things that would cause too much trouble.

It wasn't in our nature to pry, either.

Loki leaned back and rested her head on the leather backing of her seat. Staring at the ceiling, she remembered the banquet and how she and the newest Deity stared at each other for much of the time. She was wary of him before she even met him. She needed to ask Odin and Thor whether or not the Jarngreipr were missing. She doubted it, but it didn't cost her anything to be cautious; just her time. They could inquire about them if they are in fact gone.

A God of Death, though, eh? I wonder if he knows Hel… Loki's sister was also a Deity that dealt with death. There were quite a few, to the point that it might be the most populated of the denominations. So many gods existed that it was impossible to know them all. There were so many that even Loki, who lived in Tenkai since the beginning of time hadn't met them all, or even heard of all of them. Takemikazuchi had introduced Loki to Izanami in the past, though she probably didn't know anyone, as she was a recluse. It wasn't a surprise that she didn't know Ainz Ooal Gown, especially if he was associated with death.

Freya may have known him, as she too handles death in a way. Even Odin handled the souls of dead warriors, so he could possibly shine some light on Ainz Ooal Gown. Loki needed to do everything she could to get information on him and his Children.

At the moment, it was the most important thing to her. She told herself it was for her own Children. She wanted to care for her family, and protect everything that they had built. This home she had helped create was the only thing that kept her grounded in Gekai. Without it, she would have nothing; no reason to exist. Because of this, she wanted to know more. She wanted to learn about the man who had consumed her mind since he first spoke to her. It was all for her Familia.

That was what she told herself. The dull throbbing in her chest as she uttered his name over and over in her head told her otherwise. With each swell of her emotions, her interest grew. There was a sense of panic that ran through her. Her skin flushed almost as red as her hair when his name unintentionally passed through her lips.

For the Trickster Goddess realized someone had tricked their way into her heart.

"Denied," the male elf answered as he threw the report down onto his desk. He flashed a poorly veiled glare at the woman standing in the center of his office.

She appeared dumbfounded that her motion had been refused. "But Mardeel-sama," she implored in an attempt to change his mind. "There is bountiful evidence that this person was spotted in the dungeon at a time during which he was unregistered with the Guild. There are two witnesses, one of which is the Sword Princess of Loki Familia."

Eina tried her best to make her case to her boss, Royman Mardeel. The portly male elf with white hair and green eyes merely stared at her with disdain. It was well established that he was prejudiced against just about every race other than the highest of elves and the various Deities. He especially did not like half-elves, but he at least respected the work she did, even if he felt that he was touching something dirty whenever she handed him her reports.

Eina Tulle didn't care that her boss was a jerk. The two rarely interacted, and he paid her, so that was enough.

She dreaded the current moment, but she needed to ensure that Guild Law was upheld. Aiz Wallenstein entrusted her with drawing up the documents for the Guild Report against the "Adventurer" known as Momonga for poaching in the dungeon. According to her testimony, Momonga admitted himself that he was acquiring funds through the slaying of monsters. He also mentioned being a member of a Familia that was later determined to be unregistered. The report also contained an account and signature of another Adventurer as a second witness to the events; namely, Bell Cranell. He doesn't quite add credence to the report because of his lack of a reputation, but it corroborates Miss Wallenstein's account well enough.

That was, of course, if Roymond allowed the Guild Report to be brought before the courts.

"Tulle-kun," his beady eyes bored into her. His tone took on an edge of warning. "Remember that there are protocols to follow in cases such as this. You are going to need more than two witnesses who have seen much more than just a verbal admittance of guilt. Poaching is a serious offense, and the laws require irrefutable evidence of the crime. Hearsay will not be admissible to the courts."

"Sir, there have been countless witnesses! This man has been in the dungeon for weeks. I am sure you have heard of the rumors of the Silent Swordsman, correct? People have been spreading rumors about him for some time. There are a number of sightings!" Eina rambled, trying to push her report forward.

But Roymond was having none of it. Slamming his hands on the desk, his large body jiggled as he shouted, "And you want me to force an entire case and court proceedings on baseless rumors from idiotic Adventurers?! Have you lost your mind?!"

The half-elf's jaw clenched, but she continued with what little information she had left, "I had an investigator look into the Magic Stone dealer in Rivira on the 18th Floor. It seems he has had a lot of traffic as of late. One client in particular has brought a steady number of Magic Stones to him every week. He has also been grossly overcharging them."

"And?" Royman's brow twisted into a glower. He opened the drawer of his desk and slid the Guild Report into it. He threw the drawer shut with a clatter and folded his hands. "Tulle-kun, why are the poaching laws in place?"

"I beg your pardon?" caught off guard, she tilted her head in confusion.

"The poaching laws are in place so people who evade paying the Guild fees and taxes are punished in accordance with Guild Law," he sighed angrily, wanting this meeting to be over. "Why would I bring a man up on charges when his debt has already been paid?"

Eina blinked, the quizzical look drawing a thin, evil smirk on her boss' face. Her mouth flapped open and shut, trying to make any noise that sounded even remotely like words. "E-excuse me. I don't understand…"

"This Momonga you mentioned in your report," he shrugged his shoulders, though not enough to cause a wrinkle in his expensive suit. "His Deity, Ainz Ooal Gown, already came to meet with me. He informed me of the situation and reported Momonga's earnings from the dungeon. Not only did he pay the appropriate taxes on the money earned, he also paid the penalty for violating Guild Law. It was an amount that was decided at that time, and it was quite steep, but it was paid in full.

"In light of this, I see no reason to trash the reputation of an up-and-coming Adventurer with a criminal record that had already been expunged."

Eina was speechless. Her eyes were widened to their limits, her ears drooped lower than they ever had, and her shoulder shook from the shock of the news. He beat us to it? If she understood Roymond's explanation, he was telling her that Ainz Ooal Gown had approached the Guild himself, even admitted to the crimes of his subordinate, and then paid off the charges.

"If anything, the one you should be investigating is that Monster Stone peddler," he glanced down at his fingernails, admiring their sheen. "If he made as much as you believe on those illegal sales of Monster Stones, then I am sure he owes an obscene amount in back taxes to the Guild. Rather than having you work on useless assignments like destructive rumors, I would prefer you investigated things that would actually benefit the Guild."

Roymond Mardeel loved money to no end. Eina wouldn't have been surprised if some of that steep penalty went straight into his pocket. She nearly crushed the papers wrapped in her hands with frustration.

With a sneer, he waved her away dismissively, "Now off you go. I expect a report on that matter next week."

Eina slipped out of the office as quickly as she could. She marched back to the lobby of the Guild, nearly pausing in the hallways to tear her hair out. Her ears twitched with fury. She had spent so many hours on that Guild Report, but it was just tossed into a desk drawer. All of her hard work was completely routed by a cheating Deity and his criminal Child. Then her boss chewed her out for looking into the wrong man, even though he knew for a fact that what she was doing was the right thing to do.

It made Eina feel frustrated, angry, anxious, and fearful; all of these emotions weighed on her. She didn't want to be the one to break the news to Wallenstein-san. She knew the Adventurer was in control of her emotions, but after having seen how irritated she had been recently, Eina believed it would be best to tell her in a well populated area.

With an exasperated sigh, she entered the staff room and sat at one of the round tables. Slouching in her seat, she held her head in her hands with her elbows squarely planted on the tabletop. No one approached because of her grumbling, but that worked for her. She wanted absolutely nothing to do with anyone. She was struggling to handle her emotions. If she wasn't so annoyed, she might have been worried that someone was working behind the scenes and making sure not to draw attention to themselves.

If I had known this, I would have slept last night instead of pulling that all-nighter in preparation…

The door to the room crashed open, and Eina's friend, the pink haired, pink eyed human woman named Misha Flott collapsed onto the floor. Her comical antics were quite common, so the other Guild Employees gave her a cursory glance before returning to their own conversations. Like a caterpillar, Misha squirmed toward Eina and climbed up onto the chair opposite her. Sitting herself down and practically melting onto the table, she blasted out a sigh so powerful, Eina thought it to be a death rattle.

With narrowed eyes and a frown, Eina inquired, "Having a tough day, I suppose?"

Misha rolled her head to the side, her lifeless eyes turning in their sockets to regard Eina with misplaced vexation. "There are so many people registering with the Guild right now, I have been working nonstop for three hours."

Eina watched as what seemed to be a tiny white spirit escaped the pink haired girl's mouth. Furrowing her brow, Eina leaned forward, "It's not so strange. We get influxes of Adventurers from time to time. Tomorrow, there will be practically no one registering."

It was a common occurrence for the Guild. People came from all over the world to become an Adventurer in Orario. It was impossible to predict people's plans for travel, but they tended to arrive during warmer months, as it was easier to travel when the weather was agreeable and there wasn't snow on the ground. It was already the peak travel season, so it isn't surprising that so many people showed up to be an Adventurer.

"That's true, but," Misha rolled her head again, planting her forehead flat against the polished wood of the table. Her voice was somewhat muffled, "It's strange that they are all registering for the same Familia."

That… was indeed strange. People as well as Deities had different tastes and standards. Many people wanted to be part of a lucrative Familia, like Loki's or Hephaestus'. Some preferred a more laid back Familia, so a smaller one with fewer people would suit them better. However, what they wanted had no bearing on whether or not the Deity would take them into their Familia. The chances of so many people getting what they wanted from a single Deity was highly improbable.

"So, who is the Deity?" asked Eina curiously. She wore an expression of indifference, but it was something that would cause her to believe that this was an "interesting day at work."

Misha sighed again, the sheen of the table clouding with the condensation from her breath. "Some god named Ainz Ooal Gown. I don't know why they would want to join the Familia of a God of Death—

Eina was already out the door and dashing down the hall toward the lobby. She burst out to see lines of people in varying states of dress queued up in front of the desk. The employees worked furiously to register them all, stamping papers strongly with the Guild's seal. A number of people were dressed in suits and maid outfits, while several were covered from head-to-toe in elaborate, and seemingly expensive armor sets.

Many appeared to be human, but there were some who were obviously different. Some races she recognized. Others, however, she couldn't pinpoint their heritage. Two dark skinned elves in a suit and dress stood in front of a fully armored person in a distinctly female, mauve bodice with horns on her helm. A man in an orange suit with an evil smile and what looked like a spiked tail swinging from side to side. A short, pale girl in blood red armor and holding a massive lance that was too large for her stature tapped her foot against the marble floor with impatience. A sharply dressed butler with huge muscles and an agreeable expression waited good-naturedly with his arms behind his back.

Their numbers were skewed distinctly toward females. There were so many maids that Eina wondered just how large their dwelling must have been if it called for so much help.

The half-elf scanned the people, but couldn't find the person for whom she searched. She was about to reenter the back room when the doors swung open. In walked a tall man in full black armor with gold and silver etchings. A red cape was draped over one of his shoulders and two massive great swords were worn on his back. The other Adventurers who were waiting to be helped turned to stare as he took his place at the end of the line and crossed his arms.

Eina assumed he was also going to register for Ainz Ooal Gown Familia.

The rumors were true, every one of them. He said nothing to anyone, not even the others in line. He merely stood there in silence, his arms crossed, and his imposing posture. His presence alone could bring people to their knees, but there was a feeling of safety as well; as if he wasn't someone to fear.

But the fear that flooded her chest contradicted anything the man made her feel. She knew this was the Silent Swordsman; this was Momonga. If she understood anything about him, even having never met him, she knew he was a criminal with no regard for the rules.

Eina gulped, swallowing the lump in her throat. She wanted nothing to do with this, but it was her job as a Guild Employee.

The half-elf stepped up to the counter and called over the next in line.

She wrote the name of the maid into the book.

She filled in the required field indicating her Familia…

Ainz Ooal Gown…



"Hello everyone! Lupusregina Beta here for the next installment of the Ple Ple Pleiades Information Corner!"

No one stands on the stage. Even though the lights are flashing and the pyrotechnics are firing in every direction, Lupusregina is nowhere to be found.

"Hm? I can hear her, but where is she?" Momonga sits in his seat in confusion. There are more explosions and fireworks this time. "Did the budget increase, or something?"

"Well, this segment is so helpful that I decided to toss a bit more money into it. The readers need to know all the information they can get their hands on," Albedo replies with a smile. "As for Lupusregina…"

Albedo presses a big red button on a remote and something drops from the rafters above the stage. The werewolf falls sharply before the rope holding her jerks up. The moment the line goes taut, she lets out a sweet moan.


"Is that… is that a tortoise style bondage web?" Momonga's mouth is agape.

"Lupusregina is currently being punished for her insubordination. Shalltear believed this would be sufficient," Albedo glares off to the side at the Vampire who seems to be completely enraptured by the werewolf's condition.

"Hah~… Hah~… HAH~!" Shalltear pants with a beet red face.

"Albedo, I think I would prefer to come up with the punishments from now on…"

"Now let's get this show on the road! Since I am indisposed at the moment, I will bring a helper out onto the stage! Everybody give it up for Yuri Alpha!"

Everyone applauds as the prim and proper maid walks out on the stage, her hands folded in front of her. Lupusregina slowly spins in the air with her arms and legs tied together.

"Welcome to the Ple Ple Pleiades Information Corner. I am Yuri Alpha, and I am your cohost this evening."

"Pretty sure it's still light out, Yuri-nee."


At Yuri's cue, Albedo presses the button again.

Lupusregina launches into the air.


The werewolf disappears along with her screams.

"Tonight's discussion shall touch upon several points that many have brought up in the review section. The first topic shall be that of the level spread. The author has taken your thoughts and views into account, and has come to the conclusion that you are correct. According to his level spread, the Danmachi characters come out much stronger than they really are. So, their overall strength in comparison to Overlord characters shall be lowered.

"On a similar note, he also believes you are all psychopaths who just want to torture the poor, unsuspecting Danmachi characters. We of Nazarick are grateful for the opportunity."

She bows.

"This is going a lot more smoothly without Lupusregina," Momonga holds his chin in thought. "How did she get the job again?"

"She has the personality for it," Albedo nods. "Also, no one else wanted to do it. Our readers are filthy humans after all."

"Next in line is the forward motion of the story. There were a few things that needed to happen in this chapter for the story to move along, such as meeting the Deities of Orario and increasing Bell's relationship with Loki Familia prematurely. However, the foremost is Nazarick's acquisition of the Falna.

"The author was required to take some creative liberty, as there isn't much information on how the Falna is bestowed. As there are god artifacts that Momonga-sama can use, using them in concurrence with creating the Falna should have a similar effect. He believes he made a decent stab at it, even if it is later proven false. Since the workings of Dark Wisdom are still obscured, things will have to carry on like this."

The screams return as Lupusregina falls back toward the stage.

The rope pulls taut.

"OW! OWOWOWOWOW! It's digging in!"

"Lupusregina, care to take the next topic?"

"S-s-sure! The next topic is Bell. He may seem a bit out of character this time around, but since things are moving faster in this story than in canon Danmachi, his growth shall be moving along faster as well. In the future, he can still pose a threat because of this accelerated growth and the fact that the quality of excelia at each level goes up. That is the cause of the disparity between each level among Danmachi Adventurers.

"Argonaut can also pose an issue, but that is a ways away.

"Next on the list, the light novel translates Loki's lines into a distorted version of English because she is supposed to be speaking in the Japanese Kansai dialect. The author finds it tedious to write, so he has chosen to ignore it. You can imagine it if you like, but that's on you."

Lupusregina catches sight of the evil smirk on Albedo's face.

"No, please!"

The button is pressed.

"I didn't do anythi-UGYAAAAA!"

She disappears.

"Finally, chapter length and time between chapters," Yuri takes over again. "This chapter is very long. It is also part of the reason it took so long to get written. Just a quick reminder that the story is not abandoned until the author says it is so. He asks that you not lose heart if there is a longer wait than usual.

"With all of that out of the way, the next chapter is Monsterphilia! The author has been planning it out for some time, even since the first chapter of the story. It could run quite long as well, but it will be a fun ride.

"Notable appearances are Lefiya of Loki Familia and even an introduction into Liliruca Arde. Starting them this early on will be important in the long run, especially if some story from Sword Oratoria will be mixed in as well.

"Thank you for reading, and we graciously await your return in the next chapter."

Yuri bows as the crowd applauds.

*Yes, we bought the "applause" sign…*


Lupusregina falls.

The rope pulls taut.

The rope snaps.

The werewolf smashes through the stage. The pyrotechnics go off prematurely, setting everything nearby on fire.

*Aaaaaaand it's gone…*


Alright, well that's it for this chapter. I'm glad you stuck with it to the end. I know it was super long, but if you made it this far, the odds are you didn't mind so much. As stated, the next chapter will be about Monsterphilia. Until next time!